Meet Edie Windsor.
She’s 83 and when her wife Thea Spyer died in 2009 after a battling advanced Multiple Sclerosis, Thea left her entire estate to Edie.
Because their marriage doesn’t legally count at the federal level because of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, after Thea’s death, Edie received a bill for $363,000 for federal estate taxes due. If Thea had been Theo, they would have been legally married and Edie would have inherited everything with no estate taxes due.
According to Edie, the estate tax bill gave her a reason to live after Thea’s death. Once, she made that decision, the next step, suing the federal government challenging the Defense of Marriage Act which holds that marriage (at the federal level) is restricted to one man and one woman, was easy. Although at her age and living with a heart condition, Edie’s not sure the courts will act soon enough for her to see the outcome.
Now meet Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali (right) and Will Behrens (left).
They were the first gay couple to be married on a military installation. In the chapel on McGuire-Lakehurst-Dix Joint Base in New Jersey on June 23 to be exact. The two men began dating in 2009 and, although New Jersey recognizes their marriage, because of DOMA, the federal government does not. Which means that, as a military member, Sgt. Umali is treated as single.
He is given money for housing and food at the single rate rather than the married rate. If he is transferred, the military is not required to take his husband (or his husband’s civilian career) into consideration. He will not be paid for moving the extra “stuff” he and his husband share, only for the weight of the stuff he would own as a single person. His husband has no access to base without an escort, so if something happens to him, it may take longer for his husband to get to his side.
If the Defense of Marriage Act was no more, all those things may change.
May is always better than won’t, so, even if Edie Windsor passes away before the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, she will have helped to make Sgt. Umali’s life with his husband that much sweeter.
And mine with Marianne’s.
All these photos to say that I am thankful to Edie and all the LGBTQ folks in her generation who worked to advance equality as much as they could so that my generation can keep going. So often, the under 35 crowd forgets that we are not the first generation to demand equality and doesn’t realize how much we can learn from the folks that came before us. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel, it’s just up to us to keep tweaking it.
As an update, we’ve gotten back our state background checks back and are now just waiting on the Feds. Come on, USA! Once that’s done, we’ll starting moving forward with the actual paperwork filing.
Any amount is helpful, we’ve got until the end of July to raise the money…we’re still sitting at $237 which gets us two sets of fingerprints a piece, covers the cost of the federal and state background checks for both of us and gives us money for one of the name change application. We’re still looking to cover the other $120 for the second application and some money for dinner… We’re looking to raise $375 – only $138 to go!