Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer met in 1962, were engaged soon after and finally wed in 2007, near the end of Spyer’s life. For nearly 45 years, the women shared everything. And when Spyer, a psychologist, passed away from multiple sclerosis in 2009 she left her estate to her wife. What a thoughtful last gift—if you’re straight.
Under the federally-mandated Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Windsor and Spyer’s relationship was not recognized when it came to benefits, meaning Windsor would face a hefty inheritance tax of more than $350,000—something a heterosexual widow would never have to worry about.
Windsor, a former IBM programmer, was not necessarily in need of the money so much as she was in need of justice. Four years ago, she took on the federal government, suing and demanding her money back. Today she won that fight as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1996 ruling, claiming it was “unconstitutional.”
With the ruling behind us, the focus now turns to benefits for same-sex couples.