The woman behind one of the same-sex marriage cases before the US Supreme Court has said that her late partner of over 40 years would have been proud of her actions.
Edie Windsor sued the state over the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) which led to her having to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes following the 2009 death of her spouse, Thea Spyer.
Because of DOMA, Windsor was denied the tax benefits that are normally granted to heterosexual married couples, a fact which her lawyers argue is clearly discriminatory.
“Thea and I were legally married. We loved and cared for each other for over 40 years. We deserve to be treated equally by our country, and not like second-class citizens,” Windsor said after the Supreme Court in Washington, DC heard two hours of arguments for and against DOMA on Wednesday.
“While Thea obviously can’t be here today, I know how proud she would be to see how far we have come for us to be standing on the steps of the Supreme Court asking for fair treatment of our marriage,” said Windsor, who wore a round diamond brooch given to her by Spyer as a symbol of their engagement.
She added: “I thought the justices were gentle. They were direct. They asked the right questions.”
Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, from Windsor’s legal team, commented: “Two lower courts have concluded that it was unconstitutional for Edie to have to pay a $363,000 estate tax bill simply because, as a lesbian, she was married to a woman, instead of a man. We very much hope that the Supreme Court will do the same.”
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court justices appeared to lean towards the lower courts’ earlier rulings against DOMA. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that DOMA seemed to allow for two kinds of marriage; “full marriage and skim milk marriage”.
Justice Elena Kagan stated that the law appeared to be “infected by animus, fear and dislike”.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court also heard a separate case that involved a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which relates to the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California.
The court is expected to issue its rulings on the two cases at the end of June.
Watch Edie Windsor speak outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday below.