In a movement defined by lockstep support among 20-somethings, and a marriage debate shaped by the 2000’s, 83-year old Edie Windsor has become our unlikely hero. An octogenarian widower leading the charge is certainly unexpected, but it is important.
Edie Windsor’s story is a reminder that Millennials are not all-of-the-sudden demanding a redefinition of marriage, but instead are campaigning for recognition of something that has been around for a long time. At the very least, since Edith Windsor asked Thea Clara Spyer “is your dance card full?”
These couples have been here, and we are all quite late to their party. We’re the generation who decided to attend. Millennials are just the group who decided we wanted stories like Edie’s to be a part of our story, our history, and the list of things we want to carry with us into our 21st Century.
An 83-year-old widow is a reminder that there has been havoc let loose on people’s lives that we cannot undo. There are 50-year relationships that have ended in death, never given equality. Though this is now the young people’s fight, there are many who stepped out long before us.
Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer’s heartwarming yet heartbreaking story is the embodiment of the consequences of Martin Luther King Jr’s warning that “a right delayed is a right denied.” Because our culture and our politics ‘just weren’t ready yet,’ a 50-year love story ended in inequality, hidden behind closed doors, and met with a monstrously large tax bill.
This is what marriage inequality does. This is what we are fighting to end. And, this is a story that a 20-something cannot tell. It takes the unlikely hero that is the energetic yet frail Edith Windsor, walking up the steps of our Supreme Court at age 83 and demanding that her love story, even in death, is equal.