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United States v. Windsor

March 27, 2013 — On the steps of the US Supreme Court after deliberations on United States v. Windsor, Washington DC


Somebody wrote me a large speech which I’m not going to make but there are a couple of things I wanted to say. I wanted to tell you what marriage meant to me.

When my beautiful sparkling Thea died four years ago I was overcome with grief. Within a month I was hospitalized with a heart attack, and that’s kind of common, it’s usually looked at as broken heart syndrome. 

In the midst of my grief I realized that the federal government was treating us as strangers and it meant paying a humongous estate tax. And it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it and it wasn’t easy, I live on a fixed income and it wasn’t easy.

Many people ask me why get married. I was 77, Thea was 75, and maybe we were older than that at that point, but the fact is that everybody treated it as different. It turns out marriage is different. 

I’ve asked a number of long-range couples, gay couples who they’ve got married, I’ve asked them: ‘Was it different the next morning and the answer is always: ‘Yes’.’ It’s a huge difference. 

When our marriage appeared in The New York Times we heard from literally hundreds of people, all congratulating us and sending love because we were married. It’s a magic word. For anybody who doesn’t understand why we want it, and why we need it, it is magic.

We did win in the lower courts. Today is like a spectacular event for me, a lifetime kind of event and I know that the spirit of my late spouse Thea Spyer is right here watching and listening and would be very proud and happy of what we’ve come to.