“I’m talking to you freely; I’d have been hiding in the closet ten years ago,” said Windsor on the steps of the Supreme Court.
Clutching a brooch affixed to her jacket, Windsor offered a glimpse into the past that reminds us of how far we’ve come—and how far we have to go:
“In 1967,” said Windsor, “We were driving in the car and Thea said, ‘What would you do if you became engaged?’—and I worked with a bunch of people that I loved, we all loved each other, we went out together a lot. I never told the truth. I never told the truth til five years ago.” Windsor worked as a computer systems consultant for I.B.M. “Thea said to me, ‘Well, what would you do if you wanted to be enagaged and you wore an engagement ring to work? What Would people say?'”
Windsor continued, “‘They would want to know: Who is he? Where is he and when do we meet him?’ So instead she gave me this pin, a circle of diamonds, instead of a diamond ring.” Here Windsor fell silent, contemplative.
Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were engaged for more than 40 years before they married in Canada in 2007.
“When my beautiful, sparkling Thea died four years ago I was overcome with grief. Within a month I was hospitalised with a heart attack, and that’s kind of common, it’s usually looked at as broken heart syndrome,” said Windsor. “In the midst of my grief I realised that the federal government was treating us as strangers.”
“Many people ask me why get married. I was 77, Thea was 75, and maybe we were older than that at that point, but the fact is that everybody treated it as different. It turns out marriage is different,” she continued. “It’s a magic word. For anybody who doesn’t understand why we want it, and why we need it, it is magic.”
On being at the center of such a historic event, said the plaintiff: “Thrilled and exalted. And humbled, very humbled.”