Edie Windsor learned she had beaten the federal Defense of Marriage Act while sitting in the New York City apartment of Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who argued her case before the Supreme Court, according to The New Yorker.
At a New York press conference just after the decision in Windsor v. U.S. was announced in her favor, Windsor, 83, told members of the press that her initial reaction was to shed tears of joy.
"If I had to survive Thea, what a glorious way to do it," said Windsor, evoking the memory of her late wife of 44 years, Thea Spyer. "And she would be so pleased."
After more than four decades together, Spyer lost her long battle with multiple sclerosis in 2009, naming Windsor her beneficiary, and leaving Windsor the home they owned together, as well as an apartment Spyer owned. As a result, after Spyer's death, Windsor was ordered to pay the government more than $360,000 in estate taxes — money she would not have owed if she had been married to a man, or if the federal government recognized her marriage to Spyer.
But the court ruled today that the government must repay the $363,000 it demanded from Windsor, declaring that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and illegally restricts the ability of individual states to define marriage according to their own policies.
"We are incredibly gratified that we struck down an un-American and unconstitutional law," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of Windsor's attorneys, on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. "We are thrilled to have won justice for our 83-year-old client who lost her wife. We are thrilled that the impact goes far beyond Edie's case; that the case will have a ripple effect all around this country; that the equal protection standard that the Supreme Court held this morning gives us an opportunity to fight against laws that discriminate against LGBT individuals in housing, employment, and public accommodations. It also gives us a chance to undo those 30 state-level DOMAs that define marriage as between a man and woman and is fundamentally un-American."
"We're thrilled at the prospects before us," continued Romero. "We truly stand at a tipping-point today for winning the struggle for LGBT equality. The fight is by no means over. Now we take it to the states — we fight law by law, state by state, to get marriage equality for every American, because that's what the Constitution stands for."
Watch Windsor's prepared statement below, delivered this morning at the New York GLBT Center, via CNN.