At 83, Edith Windsor says it is ‘very joyous’ to have her DOMA challenge heading to US Supreme Court

'I feel like everybody's treating me like a hero'

At 83, Edith Windsor says it is ‘very joyous’ to have her DOMA challenge heading to US Supreme Court
01 January 2013

There was a time, not too long ago, that Edith Windsor felt she didn’t have anything left to live for.

Her spouse of 44 years, Thea Clara Spyer, had died in 2009 and Windsor suffered from a case of broken heart syndrome (stress cardiomyopathy) that was so severe that her heart stopped.

‘I was ready to go. I didn’t care,’ she tells the Associated Press. ‘I had a wonderful life.’

But there was more to come – much more.

After Spyer’s death, Windsor was required to pay a $350,000 federal estate tax bill that she would not have had to pay if their 2007 marriage in Canada had been recognized in the US.

But the US Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited the Internal Revenue Service from treating Windsor as a surviving spouse. Instead of staying silent, the 83-year-old Windsor sued and won. 

The ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court by the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives and the high court be hearing the case this spring.

‘I keep saying, `Keep me alive until after the Supreme Court’ arguments in March, she says. ‘It’s a very important case. It’s bigger than marriage, and I think marriage is major. I think if we win, the effect will be the beginning of the end of stigma.’

‘It’s very joyous,’ she adds. ‘I feel like everybody’s treating me like a hero. Everybody thinks it takes enormous courage.’

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