Edith Windsor’s Case Against DOMA is About More Than an Inheritance

Happy ladies

Thea Spyer & Edith Windsor

This month is going to be one to remember in the fight for marriage equality as, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court will see a case involving the unequal treatment of same-sex couples who want federal recognition of their marriages.

And we have a lady named Edith Windsor to thank.

Windsor was married to her long-time partner Thea Spyer for only two years before Spyer died in 2009, but the two women had been engaged since way back in 1967.

Most of their lives were spent as a devoted couple, but when Spyer died and willed her assets to Windsor, Windsor faced some steep taxation on her inheritance from her late wife. Why? Because they were not married in the eyes of the United State government because of the Defense of Marriage Act which, signed by President Bill Clinton, narrows the federal definition of marriage to one man and one woman.

But March 27, that could all start to change. That’s when oral arguments in United States v. Windsor begin. After a New York court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, Windsor has taken her case to the highest court in the land. And the Obama administration, same-sex couples, and clear-thinking humans everywhere are on her side.

The case is about financial equality and legal equality and any number of equalities. But it’s also about the decades of love and commitment shared between two very cool ladies from New York’s Greenwich Village.

New York magazine sat down with Windsor for a recent issue and Windsor shared some touching photos and anecdotes of her long life with Spyer. You can learn all about Windsor’s fascinating life as an activist alongside Spyer in the 2009 documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, throughout which Windsor provides such narrative gems as, “We just went on with this talent we have for wrestling joy from the shit.”

And who can’t relate to that?

Spyer and Windsor’s uplifting tale is worth hearing and it’s also a living history. Next week, though it has been years since Windsor lost the love of her life, the final chapter in their story will finally play out before a rapt national audience.

For your viewing pleasure as you eagerly await next week’s landmark proceedings, the full Edie & Thea documentary is below.