Edith "Edie" Windsor reacts to cheers as she arrives for a news conference in New York on Wednesday following the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling striking down as unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act.
By Miranda Leitsinger, Staff Writer, NBC News, Staff Writer, NBC News
NEW YORK -- The 84-year-old widow at the center of an historic gay-rights marriage case before the Supreme Court said she cried on Wednesday upon learning of her win, with the justices deeming unconstitutional a federal law that bars recognition of same-sex marriage.
Celebrations around the nation as the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and declined to rule on California's Prop 8, legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.
Smiling and at some times emotional, Edie Windsor said: “I cried, I cried,” after learning of her landmark victory, hailed by one of her attorneys, James Esseks, as a “watershed” moment in the decades-long battle for gay rights.
“We won everything we asked and hoped for. Wow,” she told a room full of reporters at The Center, a LGBT rights community center in New York City.
marriages of gay and lesbian couples married in the 12 states that allow same-sex marriage, plus the District of Columbia, and give them the same benefits that they had been previously denied under the struck-down law, the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA).
“I thought we had every right to win. I thought our arguments were sound and everyone else's were insane,” she quipped.
Windsor noted that her journey as a lesbian throughout the decades meant she had had to lie a lot of the time about her sexuality. Her other attorney, Roberta Kaplan, likened Windsor to Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks and Harvey Milk.
“It makes me feel incredibly proud and humble,” Windsor said.
marriage in Canada. She noted that if her spouse had been named “Theo,” she wouldn't have received that bill.
She was heartbroken after Spyer’s death but also “overwhelmed with a sense of injustice and unfairness” and decided to sue to get her money back.
Kaplan said Windsor would recoup that money plus interest, as would other couples who brought a case. For other couples, who are married now, the reimbursement will depend on each federal program and benefit. DOMA had blocked the access of same-sex married couples to more than 1,100 federal benefits.
same-sex marriage nationwide but would otherwise take a back seat.
"I don't have a ton of years left and I would like to relax a little bit," she said lightheartedly.
And when asked what she thought Thea, her partner of 44 years, would say on this big day, Windsor surmised: “You did it, honey.”
same-sex couple hoping to get married but living in a state where you cannot do so? If so, please email reporter Miranda Leitsinger at email@example.com. Also note if your comments can be used and provide a telephone number.