Edith Windsor, DOMA Plaintiff, Celebrates Victory At U.S. Supreme Court
Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case United States vs. Windsor, expressed her joy at the Court’s decision to strike down section three of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. The third section of DOMA restricts people in same-sex marriages from the same federal benefits as those in opposite-sex marriages.
Windsor, 83, found out about the decision while at her attorney Roberta Kaplan’s apartment Wednesday morning. The apartment reportedly broke out in screams and tears of joy once the decision was announced. “Total victory, Mom: it couldn’t be better,” Kaplan reportedly said in a phone call to her mother. Windsor, too, was ecstatic. ““I wanna go to Stonewall right now,” she said.
A little after 11:00 am, Kaplan received a congratulatory phone call from President Barack Obama and handed the phone to Windsor. “Hello, who am I talking to?” Windsor reportedly asked. “Oh, Barack Obama? I wanted to thank you. I think your coming out for us made such a difference throughout the country.”
Windsor received many congratulations for her perseverance. “This is a joyous moment in our country’s history, thanks in large part to Edie Windsor, who fought many hard-won battles along the way to this victory,” said Michael Adams, the Executive Director of SAGE, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. “Older lesbian and gay couples were especially hard hit by DOMA, and their health, well-being and quality of life will now be vastly improved. Congratulations to Edie, a longtime SAGE hero, on breaking down another barrier to full equality for LGBT elders!”
Windsor challenged DOMA in 2010 after the death of her partner Thea Spyer in 2009. The two married in 2007 in Toronto, Ontario, after 40 years together, and lived in New York. After Spyer’s death, Windsor was required to pay over $363,000 in federal estate taxes on the inheritance of her wife’s estate. If same-sex marriages had been granted the same federal law as opposite-sex marriages, Windsor would have qualified for unlimited spousal deduction and would have paid no federal estate taxes.
Windsor sued the federal government after the IRS denied her a refund of her federal estate taxes. In February 2011, the Obama administration officially announced that it would defend DOMA in the Supreme Court, but would enforce it until repealed by Congress or deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, as was done Wednesday morning.