Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Remembering Edie Windsor

Edie Windsor, photo from D.C. Pride June 2017

Edie Windsor changed the world, making our country better for LGBTQ people.

In 1963 Edie met Thea Spyer and the two woman became a couple. They did the domestic partnership thing in New York, and since they couldn't get legally married in the US, they married in Canada in 2007. Two years later, Thea died. They had been together for 47 years!

But the US government didn't consider their marriage real, and Edie was taxed on everything she inherited from Thea as if they were strangers. If Thea had been a man, Edie would have paid no taxes on that inheritance.

Edie stood up to this injustice, and in 2010, at age 81, took our government to court to demand her relationship with another woman be treated equally with anyone else's married relationship.

In 2013 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor’s favor, "overturning Section 3 of DOMA and setting a precedent that laid the groundwork for national marriage equality."

It's interesting to consider how Edie's white and wealthy position in our culture, and the issue of being unfairly taxed, resonated with many who considered themselves conservatives – bringing new allies to the side of marriage equality.

A year ago, in September 2016, Edie Windsor, having found love again, remarried - marrying Judith Kasen. Legally marrying the new woman she loved. An historic change she helped make possible!

Here's President (Wow do I miss him) Barack Obama's statement on Edie (From his Facebook page):

America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right.
Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.
I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice. And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.
Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.
I thought about Edie that day. I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.
Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.

You can find out more about Edie Windsor and her life here.

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