So it felt equally natural when Robbie was introduced to Edie and decided in about 3 seconds to take her case. Robbie and Rachel have always paved their own way in life, and this case was no different. They were told early on that it wasn’t time, that Edie’s case wasn’t winnable. But Robbie knew instinctively that now WAS that time and that Edie had the perfect case.
It has been amazing to watch this case unfold from the inside. A little known fact is that the opposition to this case was funded by us, the US taxpayer. DOMA was overturned by the US court of appeals twice, the last time in October of 2012. Both times, the Republicans led by John Boehner decided to fund opposition, all the way up to the Supreme Court, with up to $3 million dollars of taxpayer dollars by one account. In retrospect however this was an excellent investment, decisively finalizing this case, and bringing DOMA, Edie and Robbie the attention they all deserved. One might think that Boehner was secretly on our side!
It has been amazing to watch Robbie go, to push this case through the Second Circuit in New York, to file a brief with SCOTUS, to hear the news that Windsor would be heard. Robbie prepped non-stop for a month, getting help from the ACLU and a who’s who of legal gay rights warriors including Mary Bonauto and Pam Karlan and doing full-on mock trials with actors playing the various justices. The night before the case was heard, we all flew into Washington where Robbie and Rachel hosted a Seder with Edie Windsor as the guest of honor. Given the historic nature of the day and the theme of equality for all men and women, the Seder was extra special and meaningful. My son and I were lucky enough to make it into the Supreme Court room to hear oral arguments, which Robbie handled brilliantly. It was a wonderful day, made all the more special by being able to watch it unfold from the inside with the incredible team Robbie assembled.
Then we waited, for Wednesday's decision.
I’d like to now share a description of hearing the news from Annie Washburn, a close family friend who was there when Robbie, Rachel and Edie got the news that they had won:
Hi family – I wanted to share a couple of thoughts about my day – which was a completely out of body experience. It turned out that I was able to be there with the lawyer (Robbie Kaplan) and the plaintiff (Edie Windsor) when the verdict came through today on the DOMA case - it was the moment of a lifetime to watch close friends win a supreme court decision, like that.
I didn't know until yesterday that I would be "in the room" for the decision. I emailed Robbie yesterday to see if I could come by today "around 9:30 for some coffee" – knowing full well the decision would be at 10am sharp. She was protective of Edie – who is 84 and very controlling… like any older person, set in her ways. Robbie cautioned me that I would likely have to leave – but Edie loves me, so I had a hunch I would be ok – but I was mentally prepared to be at home alone at 10am if need be.
When I arrived at 9:15 there was a reporter from the New Yorker, the top 3 members of the legal team, a hairstylist, a publicist, Rachel, Robbie, Edie – and me. At 9:45 Edie looked across the kitchen table, locked eyes with me – and said "the way I am getting through this, is I'm just going to look right into your eyes." WHAT A MOMENT. They made good decisions to set up "decision day", there was coffee, the dog was at daycare, Jacob was at school…
The way a Supreme Court Decision comes down it comes in pieces and needs interpretation – right away the Robbie's top associate Jehryn was able to decipher what was going on. I don't really understand the nuances, but there are levels of "winning" and it was immediately understood that we were "winning" at the highest level. Contrary to what anyone says – every body was nervous, and no one thought it was a sure thing, truly. This is a group of legal scholars, operating at a very high level. Elsewhere, at the law firm, there was a conference room of 50+ team members at the ready to work on next steps – including filing with the Federal Govt. for Edie's tax refunds (with interest). Also on that call were legal scholars from around the country – at the ready to interpret the ruling. It was a major operations – and far bigger, I think than any of us realize.
As the decision was handed down, and further defined – the room became jubilant - everyone was laughing and crying while the reality of the victory set in. It was stunning and breathtaking, truly. Robbie was jumping up and down, Rachel was streaming tears. They were both immediately on the phone with their parents. Years of personal investment, worry, legacy – all vested at that moment. A giant sense of relief set in – and everyone was relieved that waterproof mascara had been on hand earlier. Immediately following the decision there was a flurry of activity - to print the decision and study up for immediate media appearances. There was brief panic when it was discovered that the printer wasn't plugged in and then was OUT OF PAPER!! It all worked out, happily. (such retro problems!)
At 11am President Obama called the house, he was on Air Force One – Edie is very hard of hearing and had a difficult time understanding him, and at one point, got disconnected (he called back). He has been instrumental in the case – and in fact mentioned Stonewall, a bar where we later celebrated, at his January inauguration.
The balance of the day unfolded with a fantastic press conference and more celebrating. I went to the office and was met with a bottle of champagne from my great colleagues. At 5:30 we had a rally of about 2000 people, right on the street in front of the Stonewall Bar – and then Emily, Julian and our friends Josh and Anthony went for dinner (spaghetti carbonara all around)… I guess we all just needed comfort food.
This weekend we have a victory party and a parade, I'm proud, in some small way to have helped arrange the victory party.
In the end hundreds of people spend thousands of hours working on this case, Paul Weiss accrued millions in pro bono fees – and dedicated their top talent – and in the end Emily and I, and all families like us, can stand a little taller an be just like every body else.
Thanks to each of you for your support from a distance.
Much love and goodnight – Annie
A really amazing week, for this country, for our family and especially for Robbie, Rachel and Edie.