Jewish Lesbian Widow Edith Windsor Revels in Win on Gay Marriage

Image: getty images

If Thea Spyer, whose death in 2009 set the stage for Wednesday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, were still alive, she might tell her partner, Edith Windsor, “You did it, honey!”

Windsor, who is Jewish and just turned 84 just a few days ago, spoke those words at a triumphant news conference at a gay and lesbian center in Manhattan, hours after the Supreme Court threw out a central part of the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.

Windsor sued the federal government after she was forced to pay additional estate taxes because it did not recognize her marriage to Spyer under DOMA. Windsor will now be able to claim a $363,000 tax refund, plus interest.

Windsor said the news had brought tears of joy.

“What a way to celebrate the life of my beloved Thea,” said Windsor, who wore a beaming smile.

The decision opens the door for same-sex couples in the 12 states that allow it, plus Washington D.C., to receive federal benefits, and has turned Windsor into an icon.

“It’s an accident of history that put me here,” said Windsor. “If Thea had been Theo,” everything would have been different, she said.

Windsor, a New York resident and former IBM consultant, and Spyer, a psychologist, met in the 1960s in a New York restaurant and spent four decades engaged to be married before they finally tied the knot in Canada in 2007.

Windsor remained closeted for years and wore a circle diamond pin rather than an engagement ring to hide the truth.

“Internalized homophobia is a bitch,” she said. “I lied all the time.”

Now, the legal fight behind her, Windsor said she is looking forward to a quiet retirement.

“I don’t have a ton of years left and I would like to relax a little bit,” said Windsor.

With that, she stepped out into the center’s atrium, where a cramped crowd of people whooped with joy and chanted her name.

Written by


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Jewish Lesbian Widow Edith Windsor Revels in Win on Gay Marriage

Thank you!

This article has been sent!