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My Heart Broke a Little Today

Rob Tisinai

March 27th, 2013

83-year-old widow Edie Windsor is suing the government to strike down DOMA, and today was her day in front of the Supreme Court. She spoke on the sidewalk afterward about the heart attack she had not long after her wife Thea’s death and how the government had treated their relationship like it never existed.

What moved me most was her description of how she’d been closeted for so many years, and how she was so grateful today for the kindness in how the Justices treated her.

She was grateful for their kindness.

Take a moment to realize that for most of her life, this kindness — this civility and dignity and respect — was something she and Thea had no reason to expect. It breaks my heart with regret at what these women had to live through, and it breaks my heart with joy that this heroine has never let it overcome her. Edie Windsor has overcome, no matter what the Court decides.

This is a precious moment in the struggle for dignity. The dignity our elders were denied, the dignity they fought for and won, the dignity we feel today, and the dignity we’ll pass down to those who are now only kids, starting to wonder if they’re gay, and taking hope from the courage of this tiny 83-year-old lady.

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Ben in Oakland
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Nice comment, rob.

As I’ve always said, I know many gay couples who have been together many decades, and know of literally hundreds more. It amazes me that we can stay together despite the vast number of heavy duty forces– law, religion, society, and medicine– arrayed to drive us part.

And I am equally amazed at the failure of so many heterosexual marriages despite those same vast forces arrayed to keep them together, including promises made to god herself.

As I’ve also always said, and you echoed it quite fully, this is not merely about ending this
Vicious prejudice for me. Im 62, and may not be around to see it end.This is about ending it for gay kids everywhere. They are our spiritual children, and they deserve to have what we have had to fight for.

Jim Hlavac
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

No gay person has ever escaped this problem, this search for decency. It’s been sixty years our asking. We may well have to go another sixty. We are discussed like a bad sack of potatoes — and they rarely deigned to speak to us until recently. We even had to get them to talk about us — the love that dare not speak its name, after all.

But it will happen, for there is a certain logical inconsistency: they make us, they admit it. Yet many are still not happy with what they made – and blame us for them making us. And all we do is peacefully ask them to be nice.

You know, we are just the nicest people, and it’s getting hard not to like us. I can’t wait till it’s over.

Ed
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

How awesome is this woman?
Humble, dignified, thankful to be treated as a decent human being. If she can’t change people’s icy hearted hatred, I’m not sure what can.

Guffey
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Long time reader but rare commenter, but I just feel the need to chime in…

I get overwhelmed every time I try to put myself in her shoes. Until a few years ago she probably never expected… probably never even crossed her mind… to be standing in the Supreme Court let alone representing the 1000s of us who have a lot of hope pinned on her. Can you imagine the pressure? Could I do it? and at 80+ years old?

I’m sure I would have made huge mistakes, said stupid stuff, blew the case… whatever… and I hope she doesn’t have such pressure to be so perfect but you know there’s got to be a lot of “what if I blow it?” going thru her mind. I would not criticize any mistake and, yet, I find myself hoping that she can withstand everything and present valiantly – and she has.

I’ve never had a hero/heroine in life – never was much for sports stars, comic stars… but I have a super heroine now. Regardless how this comes out she is one incredible person.

Regan DuCasse
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

She is a shero to me too. Morris Kight, Frank Kameny…I can’t list them all. There are TEENAGERS that lit up places with their heroism, talent and heroism.

As often as I make an opportunity, I remind the public at large who hasn’t appreciated it, just how much patience, courage and compassion it requires to be a gay person in a society like this one.
A country and society that constantly and without consciousness, can’t fix on what’s truly right and just.
That there is no end to the lying, defamation and misinformation taught to people that keeps gay people isolated and misunderstood. While gay people themselves aren’t invited to speak on their own behalf, nor aren’t allowed to determine their own lives.

There can be no truth in any place where only one side is the only one that demands attention. And misuses it at that.
It’s not only taken for granted that other straight people are done listening and actually DO want to hear from gay folks, but also it’s not appreciated in just how non violently, peacefully and legally gay people have gone about this revolution.
I bring this up over and over again, as much as I can to those who really have no right to ignore it.
Surprisingly, teenagers are the ones who, as skeptical and argumentative as they tend to be, will respect frank logic after a fashion.
It’s a very cowardly campaign that’s been marching all over gay citizen’s rights. Cowardly and without coherence.
Eventually, that incoherence, and irrational bearing just cannot hold up.
And the best people out there, the smartest, the most concerned and decent…will get that too.

Bose in St. Peter MN
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Edie talked about having to sell things to raise the money to pay the estate tax, but she’s also talked about how invasive it was to have all of their personal household effects, jewelry, art, travel souvenirs and more, inventoried in order to label anything ostensibly paid for by Thea tallied as a now-taxable gift.

It’s always tough for a surviving spouse. If it was not the first marriage, items may have been left in the will to kids and grandkids from it. The household changes. At some point, a closet full of clothes needs to be sorted out. Eventually, the possessions that had gotten daily use get skinnied down to a few of the favorites. Family ties can get worn, long-standing tensions exacerbated.

To have Edie still strong, still telling her story, despite (and because of) the government being required by law to insert itself into her & Thea’s private space is certainly amazing and inspiring.

CPT_Doom
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

I may have mentioned this before but the most shocking thing my grandmother ever did was in 1988 when she stood up for her brother’s partner at a FL hospital. My great-uncle had been ill for years and was in his final days when the hospital tried to deny his “roommate” of 40 years access to his room. My grandmother, who was NOT progressive at all – we were all pleased when she began using “colored” instead of the n-word – threatened to remove her brother and call the media. She later expressed her outrage to us at the way Steve had been treated.

I am sure neither my great-uncle nor his partner would ever have expected that either, but it justs proves when you are talking about family, everything changes. Now so many people in the country know one of us that this phenomenon is driving the move to equality.

StraightGrandmother
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Oh, Ben in Oakland you made me cry.

Timothy Kincaid
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

great heros and sheros. but let’s not forget that there are also theros, like Connie Norman and many others.

Ben in Oakland
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Wasn’t my intention, grandma. :)

Smith
March 27th, 2013 | LINK

Excellent post. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I heard her speak today for the first time. There was no bitterness or resentment in her voice or demeanor, despite the way she has been treated by just about everyone, including her own government. I suspect that the love she experienced with her spouse served as an antidote to bitterness.

MattNYC
March 28th, 2013 | LINK

We watched “Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement” on NetFlix last night. Very moving.

Scalia should be bound and gagged and forced to watch this on a non-stop loop for 24 hours.

customartist
March 28th, 2013 | LINK

Ben,

I did literally cry seeing Edith Wondsor having to fight for what heteros take for granted.

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