Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Then Comes Marriage

Book 86 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from December 2 - 6

Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA
by Roberta Kaplan

Summary (via Goodreads)
Renowned litigator Roberta Kaplan knew from the beginning that it was the perfect case to bring down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had been together as a couple, in sickness and in health, for more than forty years—enduring society’s homophobia as well as Spyer’s near total paralysis from multiple sclerosis. Although the couple was finally able to marry, when Spyer died the federal government refused to recognize their marriage, forcing Windsor to pay a huge estate tax bill.
In this gripping, definitive account of one of our nation’s most significant civil rights victories, Kaplan describes meeting Windsor and their journey together to defeat DOMA. She shares the behind-the-scenes highs and lows, the excitement and the worries, and provides intriguing insights into her historic argument before the Supreme Court. A critical and previously untold part of the narrative is Kaplan’s own personal story, including her struggle for self-acceptance in order to create a loving family of her own.
Then Comes Marriage tells this quintessentially American story with honesty, humor, and heart. It is the momentous yet intimate account of a thrilling victory for equality under the law for all Americans, gay or straight.

My Opinion
Normally I would question including so much of the lawyer's backstory but in this case, I understand.  The journeys of Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor, and Thea Spyer were so interesting and it really seems like they all came together in a serendipitous way to take on this battle together.  It was the right people at the right place at the right time.

It's no secret what this book is about so if you're interested, you won't be disappointed.  It presented the behind-the-scenes of how they prepared but it wasn't dry.  I learned new things, not only about this case but also about the Supreme Court in general.

And now I want to grab some Kleenex and watch the documentary about Edie and Thea.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"One of the great benefits of marriage is that it gives couples the opportunity to experience their community rallying around them, to feel the support of loved ones who pledge to celebrate the joyous moments but also to be there for them during the dark times as well. Gay people were never allowed to have that community support, and I think it wounded many of us in many ways. Because we had always been excluded from marriage, many of us had never fully understood what is at the core of the marriage experience - that it is not simply a relationship between two people, but also a relationship between a couple and their larger community." 

"The footage is a little shaky, the sound quality isn't great, but there they are: Thea, dressed in a black suit and white turtleneck, a corsage of two red roses pinned to her lapel, and Edie, perched on the armrest of Thea's wheelchair, wearing a cream-colored suit and a string of pearls. It is May 22, 2007, and after more than forty years together, seventy-seven-year-old Edie Windsor and seventy-five-year-old Thea Spyer are finally getting married."

"In order to make sure I kept my focus where it needed to be, I wrote the following five words on a Post-it note, which I stuck to my laptop screen: "It's all about Edie, stupid."...I wanted to make sure that in all the writing and rewriting, all the back and forth about strategy and tactics and angles, I did not lose sight of the single most important part of our case."

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