Ms. Windsor, 83, is a widow, but by act of Congress, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton at the height of the 1996 campaign, she has paid more than $500,000 in inheritance taxes because her spouse, Thea Spyer, was a woman. “If Thea was a Theo, I wouldn’t have had to pay,” Ms. Windsor said. “One letter.”
This week, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled in her case that the law, the Defense of Marriage Act, was unconstitutional. Across the country, legal conveyor belts are carrying other cases that challenge the law toward the Supreme Court. Few of them can provide an exact dollar amount on the cost of the unequal treatment of same-sex marriages, but Ms. Windsor can.
Edith Windsor met her wife, Thea Spyer, at a club in Greenwich Village in 1963. They were together for more than 45 years. We should all be so lucky as to have a spouse as devoted as Ms. Windsor:
At age 45, Ms. Spyer learned she had multiple sclerosis. Her physical powers drained; she shifted her psychology practice to their home and traveled to her wedding with a motorized wheelchair that had to be reassembled at each end of the journey. Ms. Windsor, who had the rank of senior programmer at I.B.M., among its highest technical titles, took early retirement to care for her in the mid-1970s. Getting Ms. Spyer ready for bed at night took about an hour, and leaving home in the morning about three hours.
Ms. Windsor not only cared for her ailing spouse for decades—he also cared for her spouse's ailing stepmother:
For a long time, as Ms. Spyer’s health was in decline, her stepmother was also failing. As these things often do, it fell to Ms. Windsor to look after the care of her stepmother-in-law. The three women did not share a drop of blood between them, but formed a dome that could not be mistaken for anything but family life.
Maggie Gallagher and the rest of the callous, unfeeling thugs at NOM argue that, whatever Ms. Windsor and Ms. Spyer were, they weren't spouses—they weren't a family—and that society would somehow be harmed if their relationship were recognized under the law as a civil marriage. The Pope argues that Ms. Windsor's love and her devotion to Ms. Spyer—and not just to Ms. Spyer, but to Ms. Spyer's entire family—is morally disordered and a grave evil.