Pride Week 2013 wrap-up
On the last Sunday of June, since 1970, the New York City LGBT community has celebrated the last day of Pride Week with a march (NOT a parade) that ends its route where the gay-rights movement began, Greenwich Village.
By now everyone knows the story of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that happened on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, and that many call the beginning of the “Gay Liberation” movement. The Village had already been a popular place for the LGBT community to live, work, and play in. A few years before the Stonewall Riots, the Mattachine Society challenged the New York State law that prohibited alcohol sales to homosexuals. You can read more about that here and here. Artists (and LGBT icons) like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring became internationally famous with their work done in the Village.
You can see much more about LGBT history in Greenwich Village here.
This year there was a special reason to celebrate: the recent US Supreme Court decision to strike down the current Defense of Marriage Act. This ruling was the result of a case brought by long-time Greenwich Village resident Edith “Edie” Windsor, who sued the US government after it forced her to pay taxes on the estate she inherited from her wife, the late Thea Speyer. The two had been together for over 40 years when they wed in Canada in 2007. When Ms. Speyer died in 2009, she left her estate to her spouse, Edie Windsor.
Ms. Windsor was required to pay over $600,000 in taxes because the government did not recognize her as a legal spouse, as defined by the Defense of Marriage Act. New York State enacted marriage equality in 2011, but at the time of Ms. Speyer’s death, the official policy of New York State was to recognize legal marriages performed elsewhere. Ms. Windsor’s argument for exemption from estate taxes was simple: she would not have to pay them if she (or her spouse) were a man, and that is discrimination.
Edie Windsor was one of the Grand Marshalls of this year’s Pride March. Her fight on behalf of many married couples led to a landmark ruling that may help the struggle for marriage equality in the 38 states that do not currently issue licenses to same-sex couples. Once again, the struggle for LGBT equality can be traced back to Greenwich Village, in the person of Edith Windsor.