Everybody loves a love story. They’ve built into our DNA. We crave them. They’re a reminder that for all the harsh cruelty, ugly randomness and willful inequality, there is hope and beauty to make us believe again. And it will be love, the love between Edie and Thea, that could change the world. Which really is how it should be. What changes us, moves us forward, makes us better should come from something good. Certainly, a great wrong was first done to that good. But it’s the good that will prevails and lifts us as a people up.
And we have Edith Windsor, Edie to friends and loved ones (and at this point we should all love Edie), to thank. At age 83, Edie is suing the United States of America to recognize her marriage to her wife, Thea Spyer. The two met in 1963, started dating in 1965, got engaged in 1967 and got married legally in Canada in 2007. Hell, I welled up a little just reading their New York Times wedding announcement. Thea died in 2009 after a 32-year battle with multiple sclerosis. After her death, Edie got stuck with a $363,000 federal estate tax bill. A tax she would not have to pay had her marriage to Edie been recognized by the federal government. In all she paid over $600,000 because her 42-year relationship with Thea meant nothing in the eyes of the law.
But instead of letting it stand, accepting the inequality of it all, she fought and fought and fought. As she fought she often relayed the progress of their case to the life-size portrait of Thea that hangs in her apartment. To this day she wears the circular diamond pin that Thea gave her as a stand-in for an engagement ring all those years ago. She wore it to have the highest court in the land hear her. And we’ve all heard her. She came out of the courthouse spunky as ever. Even if the justices rule to continue an injustice and uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, her bravery and determination will not be in vain. We’ve come too far to be stopped now. So thank you, Edie. Thank you for sharing your love. For showing us your heart. For fighting for us all. Happy weekend, all.
p.s. If you want to get even more inspired, watch their documentary “Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.” It’s streaming on Netflix. But be warned: Come packing Kleenex.