The Edie Windsor New Yorker profile in 7 Blurbs

9.23.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Lesbian widow's personality was sterilized for the stand.

We've been waiting to read Ariel Levy's profile of Edie Windsor for this week's New Yorker since we saw she was on the scene the day the verdict came in.

But it's not just about Windsor, the lesbian widow whose inheritance lawsuit challenged and brought down DOMA. In addition to focusing on Windsor, the profile's also discusses Windsor's spouse, Thea Spyer, the lawyer who argued her case, Roberta Kaplan, the tactics used in the case, and about what it really means to love.

Since the article is only available online to subscribers, here are seven brief excerpts from "The Perfect Wife." If you don't subscribe, you should pick up a copy.

In addition to the Windsor profile, this issue includes a Somali chef who won't back down to terrorists, a piece on the rise of the mega-club in Las Vegas, and the cover features an appropriately paired couple: Chemical weapon-using Syrian President Basar Al-Assad and Breaking Bad's fictional meth dealer, Walter White.

1.Edie is forever feisty:

"'Fuck the Supreme Court!'" Edith Windsor said, one hideously hot morning in June, when she’d had just about enough. Then she sighed and mumbled, 'Oh, I don’t mean that.' What she really meant was that she was hot, she was tired of waiting, and, most of all, she was tired of being told what to do. 'I’m feeling very manhandled!' she said."

2. No Sex on the Stand:

"When [Kaplan] took on Windsor's case, pro bono, she made some rules for her client. For example, Kaplan had instructed Windsor not to talk publicly about sex — a subject on which Windsor is exceptionally colorful and voluble. 'All I needed was Antonin Scalia reading about Edie and Thea's butch-femme escapades,' Kaplan told me."

3. "Lesbians can't lead:"

"'When she first came out, [Windsor] went to gay bars nearly every night, where she would smoke cigarettes and dance with other women, who were unsatisfactory partners. 'Lesbians can't lead,' she said, shaking her head sadly. At Portofino, Spyer, a graduate student in psychology with an arresting face and a frisky self-assurance, had come with a date. 'She always had someone," Windsor said.

"I think [Thea] dug me sexually that first year, but I don't think she wanted me as a life partner," Windsor said. "She had been with a lot of very wealthy, very white girls." Winsdsor was something else: animated, industrious, and ferociously passionate. 'I never wanted anybody inside me till Thea. And then I wanted her inside me all the time.'"

4. One Wife:

"The only drawback to being married was that well-meaning people would refer to Spyer as Windsor's 'wife.' In a butch-femme couple, there can only be one long-nailed lady of the house, and that was Windsor. 'Every time somebody calls her my wife, I am furious,' Windsor said. 'Robbie used it once, and I said, 'Look, you can say she's my spouse. Or you can say nothing. But you cannot say she's my wife. It's a fucking insult to her!' "

5. Not Florence: (On Windsor taking care of her lover after Spyer's MS took hold)

"[Windsor] doesn't like it when people talk about that period as if she were some kind of lesbian Florence Nightingale. 'I was never her nurse — I'm her lover.' Windsor said emphatically. 'I was just doing things to make her comfortable — and that was with loving her and digging her. I don't know if I glorify it.' "

6. Making Edie:

"…Just as it was possible to present [Rosa] Parks as a quiet seamstress who was simply too weary to stand — when in fact she had worked for over a decade as a political organizer — Windsor could be remade as a non-threatening old lady."

7. Softy:

"…And then the words 'DOMA' is unconstitutional' flashed on the computer screen. There was silence. Somebody screamed. Rachel Lavine [Kaplan's wife] started sobbing… Windsor was not yelling or crying. 'I want to go to Stonewall right now,' she said.

[Friend Virginia] Moraweck wiped tears from her face and said, 'Even though Edie's the survivor, you feel like Thea's still present.'

'Crybaby,' Windsor said, and patted her on the shoulder."

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