WASHINGTON — Edith Windsor emerged from the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to loud cheers from marriage equality supporters gathered outside the high court, on this second day of back-to-back same-sex marriage cases.
“Edie, Edie,” chanted a jubilant crowd for the 83-year-old woman at the center of the U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“I felt very respected, and I think it’s gonna be good,” Windsor told reporters moments after the hearing.
Windsor, of New York, sued to challenge a $363,000 federal estate tax bill after her partner of 44 years died in 2009.
Windsor, who goes by Edie, married Thea Spyer in 2007 in Canada after doctors told them that Spyer would not live much longer. She suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years. Spyer left everything she had to Windsor.
“People saw that we didn’t have horns – people saw that we were their friends or their cousins, and it just grew to where we were human beings like anybody else,” she said.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the high court indicated it could strike down DOMA, the law that prevents legally married gay couples from receiving a range of federal benefits that go to married people.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote in close cases, joined the four more liberal justices Wednesday in raising questions about the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that is being challenged at the Supreme Court.
Kennedy said the law appears to intrude on the power of states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages. Other justices said the law creates what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called two classes of marriage, full and “skim-milk marriage.”