The New York widow who challenged a federal law will pay tribute to her late wife by dancing the night away
Edith Windsor has won her case – and now it’s time to party.
The woman behind the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was declared unconstitutional Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court, was at the home of her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, when she heard the news.
The entire room erupted in shouts of joy and the sound of tears of happiness when the ruling came down, reports The New Yorker. But then things quieted down enough for Windsor, 83, to take a call from President Barack Obama.
“Hello, who am I talking to?” Windsor said, according to the magazine’s report. “Oh, Barack Obama? I wanted to thank you. I think your coming out for us made such a difference throughout the country.”
Obama declared his opposition to DOMA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and restricted federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex couples, in 2011. That was two years after Windsor’s wife Thea Spyer died and she was ordered to pay $363,000 in estate taxes because the federal government did not recognize her marriage. (The women wed in New York in 2009 after 40 years as a couple.)
Clinton, who later changed his stance on the law, and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also offered their congratulations to Windsor in a statement: “By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union,” it reads.
“We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California. We applaud the hard work of the advocates who have fought so relentlessly for this day, and congratulate Edie Windsor on her historic victory.”
“Gay Americans have affected the thinking and feeling [of people] who will come to see us as human beings who live and love as they do,” Windsor told reporters at a press conference Wednesday.
“What a life I’ve had, full of love and joy. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And now is when I try not to cry.”
Now that Windsor has won her case, she’ll celebrate at New York City’s annual Pride Parade on Sunday in Manhattan, where she’ll serve as a grand marshal.
“She plans to have a dance party on Saturday night [before the parade] to celebrate with friends – the significance being that when she met Thea Spyer nearly 50 years ago, they danced so long Edie wore a hole in her sock,” a friend of Windsor’s tells PEOPLE.
Windsor can dance without worrying about more holes. She also stands to receive a refund of the $363,000 she paid to the federal government in taxes on Spyer’s estate – and that will buy a lot of socks.
• With reporting by JEFF NELSON