Edith Windsor a heroine of the gay movement

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 3:39am

The unlikely heroine of the modern gay rights movement in the United States is a diminutive 83-year-old who went to the highest court in the land, and won.

Edith Windsor sued the federal government in the midst of her grief when her partner of 40 years, Thea Spyer, died in 2007. Windsor was ordered to pay US$363,000 in estate taxes as the federal government did not recognise their marriage.

When the court ruled last December that it would hear her case, Windsor said she was "delirious with joy".

"I think Doma [the defence of marriage act] is wrong for all of the various ways in which it discriminates against same-sex married couples and against gays all together," Windsor said. "It's enormously satisfying and fulfilling and exciting to be where we are now."

Windsor met love in a restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York, after asking an old friend to take her "where the lesbians go".

Spyer, she said, would have been proud of her achievement.

"I think she'd be so proud and happy and just so pleased at how far we have come. It's a culmination of an engagement that happened between us in 1967 when we didn't dream that we'd be able to marry."