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Prop. 8 Plaintiffs: Love Is Edie Windsor


Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo on the lessons that Edie taught them.

We will never forget Edie Windsor. The world knows her as the fearless plaintiff who dismantled the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for marriage equality for all Americans. No one can forget the image of her on the steps of the Supreme Court, arms wide open, filled with joy, and Thea's brooch close to heart. It was like she was hugging the world saying, "It's going to be OK ... love will always win."


Edie is a peaceful warrior with a lightning within that strikes in the most powerful way when called upon. She is powered by love; her love of Thea and the LGBTQ community. Beautiful on the inside and out, she lived a majority of her life in the shadows as a lesbian, but was willing to rise up, speak out, and fight back against the government that challenged the validity of her love.

We were lucky enough to have brunch with Edie once, and she radiated with joy. She is, in fact, known for saying "Don't postpone joy." It was evident she was living in that proclamation. We spoke about many things, and, in a quiet moment, we asked how she found the strength to stand alone in front of the world proclaiming their once-very-secret love to be recognized legally through marriage. She simply responded, "I wasn't alone."

We held back tears and grabbed her hands. Nothing else needed to be said. Later, we sat together and spoke about love that endures and she generously complimented us on how we love each other. She could tell. We asked her, "What's your secret?" She simply told us that it "takes two seasons." She explained that getting through two years of seasons of birthdays and holidays, and recognizing that the first year was all about the "firsts." The second year is all about perspective and realizing that the durability of your relationship is rooted in seeing yourselves as individuals but also seeing yourselves together as one. We still use this bit of advice today with friends and family in new relationships. We asked her if we could get her a drink and she replied, "A soda water, loves." As we turned away, she grabbed our hands to stop us and continued with a look that meant business, adding, "With some vodka in it."

That is how we know and remember Edie. It was instant love. We had being plaintiffs in common and recognized the power of representing your love out loud and what it can do to simply brighten a day or win civil rights. Love is the quiet sky that is electric within. It can light up the night with a power to make all who see it stop and realize the hidden power behind its calm beauty. Love is Edie Windsor.

Edie Windsor gifted all of us LGBTQ+ and beyond the lesson that love will always prevail and should be our guiding principle in living a life full of pride. She may have left us in body, but her spirit has filled us with a passion to shine brighter in living our truth. She proves that power comes in all sizes and making a difference sometimes just takes a simple brave step into the spotlight, one she so generously shared with millions of people around the world.

PAUL KATAMI and JEFF ZARRILLO were two of the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which legalized marriage equality in California.

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Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo