Constitutional Faces: Edith Windsor

January 10th, 2013

A great profile of the plaintiff from United States v. Windsor, courtesy of from Chris Geidner:

For the past three years, that story has played out in federal courthouse. But the real tale is one of how a lesbian in post-World War II America could find, live with and — at long last — marry the love of her life.

“I read a paperback when I first got to New York,” Windsor says, herself then a young woman moving to the city to start a new life after having ended a short-lived marriage to a man. “It was about a young woman, a schoolteacher, who had come to New York for her vacation, and she was looking in the mirror. She’s all dressed up, and is talking to herself and saying, ‘You’re in New York City where anything could happen,’ and then she says, ‘So, what could happen?’ ‘You could kiss a woman.'”

Windsor’s eyes widen: “And I jumped out of my chair and said, ‘Where!?'”

Where, for Windsor, turned out to be Portofino, a restaurant in Greenwich Village where Windsor was introduced to Thea Spyer in 1963.

“Somebody brought her over to the table and then it turned out that we were going to the same place after dinner,” Windsor says. “So, we did that, and then we went back to Thea’s apartment, and we were dancing, and we just kept dancing, until [I had a] hole in my stocking. And, I realized I had to get out of there, I had to get home.”

Of that night, which began with Windsor asking a friend to take her to “where the lesbians go,” Windsor says, “I suddenly knew the world from having that evening of meeting people. So, I went to a lot of parties. And, for two years, Thea and I would meet at these parties and always dance together and always have people annoyed with us because we had our coats on and everyone’s trying to leave — and we’re dancing. But that’s all. It took us a little over two years to begin to date, and then we dated seriously. And, finally, in 1967, we became engaged.”

Windsor and Spyer, there can be no question, fit their parts. Photos of them from those years capture a quintessential New York City couple: elite, stylish, “in.” But for the fact that they are two women, they would have been indistinguishable from any other society photos of the time.

And this quote is great:

 I trust the Constitution. Sometimes there’s a mistake, but mostly we move forward. I think we’re going to win just because I think justice will prevail. Is that crazy?”