Quick Hit: The woman behind the SCOTUS DOMA case

Today The New York Times published a profile of Edith Windsor, a friendly-looking 83-year-old New Yorker in pink and pearls whose fight against the Defense of Marriage Act, which “requires the federal government to deny marital benefits to gay and lesbian couples who live in states that allow such unions,” has made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The article covers Windsor’s 40-year relationship with her late wife Thea Spyer and touches on the tricky matter of why the couple’s lasting commitment made this the ideal case, whether we like it or not, for lawyers to win over conservative judges:

…Legal experts said that [Windsor's] age, the length and depth of her relationship, the way it can be viewed as a case about an unfair tax level as much as a case about gay rights, make it one with mainstream appeal — including, perhaps, to the middle-aged and older justices on the court.

“When you’re dealing with a 40-year-relationship and an 83-year-old woman, whatever unfortunate stereotypes that often attend this issue are hard to apply,” said Kenji Yoshino, a law professor at New York University.

It would have been nice to see the author mention Windsor’s race and class as factors in her “mainstream appeal,” but the issue raises the unavoidable question: are we OK reinforcing ideas of who qualifies as a “good” queer in order to assure basic rights?  You can read the whole article here.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/jpbsa/ Jason

    I would argue that “gay marriage” ITSELF reinforces who is a “good queer.” Sure people that wanna get married should and all that, but it only improves the lives of a few gays. For a majority of queers who still can’t get quality healthcare, a job, housing, emergency shelter and many other needed resources – “gay marriage” doesn’t really do much.

    So exactly: who qualifies as a “good” queer? Anyone in the stable enough position to get married in the first place. And that is why gay marriage is on the forefront of the “gay” political agenda. Because it helps and reinforces the rights of those that have more power already.

    So again, it isn’t a bad thing, but I’m so excited for it to be over so real progress can be talked about.