In the Life Media profiles Edie Windsor and her DOMA challenge
August 24, 2012
In the Life, a national LGBT-focused television program, has released a new video showcasing Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old New Yorker at the center of Windsor v. United States, one of the primary lawsuits challenging the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA is the 1996 law that prohibits federal respect of marriages between same-sex couples. Earlier this summer, Windsor and the American Civil Liberties Union won their case at the district court level when Judge Barbara Jones found DOMA's Section 3, which explicitly excludes same-sex couples from marriage, to be unconstitutional
Windsor's case dates back to November 2010, when the ACLU and a law firm filed suit on her behalf. Windsor, a resident of New York state, had legally married Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007 after the two had lived together as a couple in New York for over 40 years. Two years after the ceremony, in February 2009, Spyer passed away from progressive multiple sclerosis, and she left her estate to Windsor. Because the federal government did not recognize Windsor's marriage to Spyer, Windsor was forced to pay a $363,000 federal inheritance tax.
In the video, Windsor explains her struggle:
The federal government treated us like strangers - and it was very painful. The sense of injustice and unfairness was huge. It's a brutal process, and, of course, if you're straight, that doesn't apply at all. If it had been Theo instead of Thea - or if it had been a guy I met the day before he died, [the estate tax] would have been zero.
Windsor's case is one of four DOMA challenges currently facing potential review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Over the past few weeks, a number of organizations and individuals - including the State of Massachusetts, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, Lambda Legal, and the Windsor's own lawyers - have filed petitions to the Supreme Court requesting that they review one or more of these cases. Many of the individuals or organizations that have filed requests have argued that the Supreme Court should rule once and for all that DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution by granting different protections to same-sex married couples and different-sex married couples.
The In the Life video is a beautiful portrait of Windsor's long relationship with Spyer, and it's a quick, entertaining catch-up if you haven't followed Edie's DOMA case. In the end of the video, Windsor sums up the impact of her case. Beyond potentially bringing down DOMA and correcting her own personal injustice, Windsor also says that winning would be a huge step forward for the gay community as a whole and bring about equal protection for all married same-sex couples in the country.
What do I think if we win? I think it's the beginning of us enjoying our lives in the open. Many people are reassuring me all the time that Thea is present in all of this stuff. And I feel like she would love what's happening and what's going on and what I'm doing and who I am.
Watch the video below, and read more about the various challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act HERE.