Partner Edith Windsor

Queer Places:
Portofino, 206 Thompson St, 10012, NYC, NY, USA

Image result for Thea Clara SpyerThea Clara Spyer (October 8, 1931 - February 5, 2009) and Edith Schlain Windsor were married in Toronto on May 22, 2007.[1]

Windsor met Thea Spyer, an Amsterdam-born psychologist,[2] [3] in 1963 at Portofino, a restaurant in Greenwich Village. When they initially met, each was already in a relationship. They occasionally saw each other at events over the next two years, but it was not until a trip to the East End of Long Island in the late spring of 1965 that they began dating each other.[4] To help keep the relationship a secret from her co-workers, Windsor invented a relationship with Spyer's fictional brother Willy — who was actually a childhood doll belonging to Windsor — to explain Spyer's phone calls to the office. In 1967, Spyer asked Windsor to marry, although it was not yet legal anywhere in the United States. Fearing that a traditional engagement ring might expose Windsor's sexual orientation to her coworkers, Spyer instead proposed with a circular diamond pin.

Six months after getting engaged, Windsor and Spyer moved into an apartment in Greenwich Village. In 1968, they purchased a small house on Long Island together, where they went on vacation for the following forty summers. The couple often took trips both in the United States and internationally. They also entertained at their home frequently, with Spyer preparing meals, including an annual Memorial Day weekend celebration of their anniversary.

In 1977, Spyer was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis. The disease caused a gradual, but ever-increasing paralysis. Windsor used her early retirement to become a full-time caregiver for Spyer, and the couple continued to adjust their daily behavior to accommodate.

Windsor and Spyer entered a domestic partnership in New York City in 1993. Registering on the first available day, they were issued certificate number eighty.

Spyer suffered a heart attack in 2002 and was diagnosed with aortic stenosis. In 2007, her doctors told her she had less than a year to live. New York had not yet legalized same-sex marriage, so the couple opted to marry in Toronto, Canada, on May 22, 2007, with Canada's first openly gay judge, Justice Harvey Brownstone, presiding, and with the assistance of a filmmaker and same-sex marriage activist familiar with the laws in both countries. An announcement of their wedding was published in the ''New York Times''. Spyer died from complications related to her heart condition on February 5, 2009.

Upon Spyer's death on February 5, 2009, Windsor became the executor and sole beneficiary of Spyer's estate, via a revocable trust. Windsor was required to pay $363,053 in federal estate taxes on her inheritance of her wife's estate. Had federal law recognized the validity of their marriage, Windsor would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction and paid no federal estate taxes.[5] [6]

Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. She was barred from doing so by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provided that the term "spouse" only applied to marriages between a man and woman. The Internal Revenue Service found that the exemption did not apply to same-sex marriages, denied Windsor's claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes.

In 2010 Windsor filed a lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking a refund because DOMA singled out legally married same-sex couples for "differential treatment compared to other similarly situated couples without justification."[7] In 2012, Judge Barbara S. Jones ruled that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional under the due process guarantees of the Fifth Amendment and ordered the federal government to issue the tax refund, including interest. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2–1 decision later in 2012.[8] [9] [10]

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in March 2013, and in June of that year issued a 5–4 decision affirming that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional "as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment."


  1. ^ Edith Windsor, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. ^ cite web|url=http://forward.com/series/forward-50/2013/edith-windsor/|title=Edith Windsor|publisher=
  3. ^ cite web|url=http://ediewindsor.com/theaprofile.html|title=Thea Spyer profile|website=ediewindsor.com
  4. ^ cite web | title = Edith "Edie" Windsor | work = The Reconstructionists | date = | accessdate = June 25, 2015 |url=http://thereconstructionists.org/post/54311191522/one-evening-in-1965-edith-edie-windsor-b
  5. ^ cite news|last=Schwartz|first=John|title=Gay Couple to Sue over U.S. Marriage Law|date=November 8, 2010 |newspaper=The New York Times|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/us/09marriage.html|accessdate=July 16, 2012
  6. ^ cite news|last=Johnson|first=Chris|title=Two New Lawsuits Target DOMA|url=http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/11/09/two-new-lawsuits-target-doma|accessdate=July 16, 2012|newspaper=Washington Blade|date=November 9, 2010
  7. ^ cite web|title=Complaint: United States v. Windsor |url=https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/2010-11-9-WindsorvUS-Complaint.pdf| publisher=aclu.org |accessdate=June 27, 2013|page=21
  8. ^ cite news|last=Baynes|first=Terry|title=Appeals court rules against Defense of Marriage Act|url=https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/18/us-usa-gaymarriage-appeal-idUSBRE89H12L20121018|accessdate=October 18, 2012|publisher=Reuters|date=October 18, 2012
  9. ^ cite court|url=http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/436f323b-5e40-411a-9026-98fa59ffb645/1/doc/12-2335_complete_opn.pdf|format=PDF|litigants=United States v. Windsor|volume=699|reporter=F.3d|opinion=169|court=2d Cir.|year=2012
  10. ^ cite news|last=Schwartz|first=John|title=U.S. Marriage Act Is Unfair to Gays, Court Panel Says|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/us/appeals-court-rules-against-defense-of-marriage-act.html|accessdate=December 13, 2012|newspaper=The New York Times|date=October 18, 2012