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ALTHOUGH THE VICTORY WAS HARD FOUGHT, THE LAWYERS SAY THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES.


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ince the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a historic ruling invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act last June, lead plaintiff Edie Windsor has become a kind of folk hero. Windsor is the 84-year-old woman who took the


federal government to court over a $363,000 inheritance tax it levied on her following the 2009 death of her partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spyer. The government did not recognize same-sex marriages, and Windsor was stuck with a tax she could not afford. By now, Windsor’s story is familiar to most


people and is the stuff of legend: an elderly woman takes on the government over a law that recognizes marriage as only between a man and woman and wins. “She can’t walk down the street without


people coming to her,” says Windsor’s attorney Roberta Kaplan. But less known are the stories of the prin-


cipal lawyers in United States v. Windsor. For most of these attorneys, the lawsuit and the pursuit of marriage equality were personal. The attorneys include a woman who’s been


described as the Thurgood Marshall of the marriage equality movement; an attorney at a blue chip law fi rm who as a youngster fell in love with the idea of using laws to champion the rights of the vulnerable and who took on the Windsor case at no cost; an ACLU attorney who’s been advocating for the LGBT com- munity since his days as a Harvard University law student; and a Stanford University public interest law professor who’s been called as a potential U.S. Supreme Court justice.


DIVERSITY & THE BAR® MARCH/APRIL 2014


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THESE ARE THEIR STORIES


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