Edith Windsor, the 83-year-old woman challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, said Wednesday that her case "went beautifully."
"I am today an out lesbian who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me," she said after being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The law prohibits legally married same sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
"When my beautiful sparking Thea died four years ago, I was overcome with grief," Windsor explained. "Within in 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 a strangers and I paid a humongous estate tax, and it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it. I live on a fixed income and it wasn't easily."
Windsor challenged the law after the federal government failed to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer after Spyer’s death in 2009. Though her marriage was recognized by the state of New York, she was still forced to pay a $363,000 federal estate tax bill because of her sexual orientation. Married opposite-sex couples are exempted from the tax.
The couple lived together for more than 40 years and were married in Canada in 2007.
"[Marriage] is a magic word, for anybody who doesn't understand why we want it and why we need it, it is magic."
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by PBSNewsHour, below:
(Edith's remarks begin at the 7:30 mark.)