RIP, Edie Windsor. You are my Hero

*video courtesy of You Tube and Huff Post Live

Last week, the world lost an awe-inspiring hero for supporters of LGBTQ civil rights. Tiny, tough, lusty and outrageously fierce, Edie Windsor was the main plaintiff in the case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, United States v. Windsor.

You see, Edie and her same-sex partner Thea were together as a couple for 40 years. After an absurdly long and loving engagement In 2007, they loudly and proudly said, I do,” in Toronto, a place where gay marriage was both safe and legal. Thea died two years later, in 2009, leaving her entire estate to her spouse, Edie, in the form of a revocable trust. But you see DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), and the people who built this hateful excuse of a law specifically defined ‘marriage’ as deliberately excluding same-sex couples. They couldn’t see ‘us.’  They went so far as to say that the term ‘spouse’ only refers to that of a ‘man and a woman.’

Edie filed taxes after the death of her lifelong love, and justly claimed the federal estate tax that allows exemptions for surviving spouses. The IRS not only barred the exemption, they forced her to pay $363,053 in taxes. Quiet and demure never described Edie. She boldly set off on the battle of a lifetime. All of us in the LGBTQ community, we were with her every step of the way. After forking over all of Thea’s loot to the government, she filed a federal lawsuit for a full refund of the nearly $400k, stating DOMA was unconstitutional, unfair and singled out legally married, same-sex couples.

Windsor fought to overturn DOMA where non-sensical legal language stripped equality from life as she and many others of us knew it. Oral arguments were heard in March of 2013.  On June 26th of that same year, ‘the Supremes’ sang out in favor of love. This court, in a 5-4 decision (thank you, Justice Kennedy! Please never, ever retire), affirmed that DOMA was unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

In my household, as in gazillions of same-sex households across the US, it was the feeling of sheer, unfettered joy. Phones rang, hearts throbbed, hugs, kisses, and high-fives could be heard in most major metropolitan areas where we believed we would be safer far and wide, and we were all alive with the promise of equality happening right before our very eyes.

Book the hall, call the caterer, hot-damn, we were going to be legal. In this lifetime. In our lifetime.

Once, when my Big, she was about two, maybe three years old and she asked us to see our wedding pictures. We told her we weren’t married. She asked why, and we looked at each other and said, the law, it doesn’t allow us to marry. She started to cry. We told her that despite the law, love wins.

Edie will be remembered as a powerful trailblazer in the long history of the gay rights movement. A queen in the Yiddish fight club! I am forever grateful for her, and all the others before her who went out on a limb and stood up for what is right. The positive outcome of her battle against the establishment has led to many happy and loving nuptials with similar ridiculously long engagements. (Ours was a mere 17 years… and we married legally in 2013)

Edie, you will be missed. Thank you for giving me and my mishpocheh (family) the gift of equality and acceptance in a time where we are tested, challenged, and opposed daily. Your giant heart gave out on you at 88, but we can still feel your pulse of hope. You will live on in our hearts each and every day. We carry your torch proudly and hope to keep moving our case for equality, justice, and authenticity forward.

My deepest sympathies to your surviving wife and family that are left behind. You left a tacca (big) set of shoes to fill, and you have proven that love does win.

To make promises and to love don’t cost any money. Tsuzogn un lib hobn kostn kayn gelt nisht.

My Mrs., Big, Little, I love you! Ich hob dier lieb!