Edie Windsor is getting her money back. She was saddled with over $360,000 in Federal estate taxes after her wife and partner of over 40 years died. A married straight couple wouldn't have had to pay a thing. Suing the United States, her case became a test of the rights afforded to married gay couples by the US Government.
The Supreme Court ruled on United States v. Windsor today, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. The ruling gives married gay couples all the federal benefits of married straight couples. That includes an easier time with Medicare, immigration, and - of course - estate taxes.
Windsor was reflective hours after winning her case, speaking on what it means for the gay community.
"The beginning of the end of stigma, of lying about who we are," she said. "It's a different level of dignity than we've already had."
Windsor was at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan's West Village. The peppy octogenarian cracked jokes and said she found a wonderful community while working on the case.
"It has been joyful all the way! And yes, there were insults interspersed, and they just fell off."
Windsor said now, she's just going to take some time to rest.
Bettina Atala and Sheila Donovan have no time to rest. The young women were celebrating the decision in the LGBT Center's lobby. They are engaged to be married and looking for a place to live. Only problem is that Atala is French, while Donovan is American. They say the U.S. immigration system is already difficult, and lack of immigration rights for gay couples has made it hard to be together.
"You know," Atala said, "being from a different country, we've actually had to make change in our lives because we didn't have the same rights."
The couple decided to move to France, because they couldn't stay together here. But the Court's decision means couples like Atala and Donovan now have more options. The ruling sends a powerful message to many in the gay community and their supporters.
"It means everything!" Donovan said choking back tears. "It means that our lives are no longer on someone else's timeline and it just means that we can go on with our lives."
Bettina Atala (l) and Sheila Donovan (r)