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Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA

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Attorney Roberta Kaplan knew it was the perfect case. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had stayed together for better or worse, for forty-four years—battling through society’s homophobia and Spyer’s paralysis from MS. The couple married in Canada in 2007, but when Spyer died two years later, the US government refused to recognize their marriage, forcing Windsor to pay a huge es Attorney Roberta Kaplan knew it was the perfect case. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had stayed together for better or worse, for forty-four years—battling through society’s homophobia and Spyer’s paralysis from MS. The couple married in Canada in 2007, but when Spyer died two years later, the US government refused to recognize their marriage, forcing Windsor to pay a huge estate tax. In this landmark work, Kaplan describes her strategy in the lower courts and her preparation and rehearsals before moot courts, and she shares insights into the dramatic oral argument before the Supreme Court justices. Then Comes Marriage is the story of the relationship behind the watershed case, Kaplan’s own difficult coming-out journey, and the fascinating unfolding of United States v. Windsor. Full of never-before-told details, this is the momentous account of a thrilling historic and political victory for gay rights.


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Attorney Roberta Kaplan knew it was the perfect case. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had stayed together for better or worse, for forty-four years—battling through society’s homophobia and Spyer’s paralysis from MS. The couple married in Canada in 2007, but when Spyer died two years later, the US government refused to recognize their marriage, forcing Windsor to pay a huge es Attorney Roberta Kaplan knew it was the perfect case. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had stayed together for better or worse, for forty-four years—battling through society’s homophobia and Spyer’s paralysis from MS. The couple married in Canada in 2007, but when Spyer died two years later, the US government refused to recognize their marriage, forcing Windsor to pay a huge estate tax. In this landmark work, Kaplan describes her strategy in the lower courts and her preparation and rehearsals before moot courts, and she shares insights into the dramatic oral argument before the Supreme Court justices. Then Comes Marriage is the story of the relationship behind the watershed case, Kaplan’s own difficult coming-out journey, and the fascinating unfolding of United States v. Windsor. Full of never-before-told details, this is the momentous account of a thrilling historic and political victory for gay rights.

30 review for Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality This book, like yesterday’s review book, Grant Park, is about a day when the universe changed. That book centered around the election of Barack Obama. This one concerns events that took place after Obama was elected, events that probably would have taken a lot longer under a different administration. On March 27, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the case of United States V. Windsor, the case that struck down DOMA, the Federal Defense of Originally published at Reading Reality This book, like yesterday’s review book, Grant Park, is about a day when the universe changed. That book centered around the election of Barack Obama. This one concerns events that took place after Obama was elected, events that probably would have taken a lot longer under a different administration. On March 27, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the case of United States V. Windsor, the case that struck down DOMA, the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, as unconstitutional. Windsor became the precedent that enabled courts across the U.S. to strike down state statutes that attempted to restrict marriage. This past summer, in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, marriage equality became the law of the land. Then Comes Marriage is the third book that I have read about this case and its aftermath. Last year’s Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality is an account of the other marriage equality case that came before the Supreme Court in 2013, the case against California’s Prop 8. In some ways, Then Comes Marriage feels like the other side of that story, as the reporter who wrote Forcing the Spring was embedded in the other legal team. And though she interviewed the principals in Windsor after the fact, her coverage of the Windsor case is naturally not as complete as it is for the case that she was personally involved with. Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial also covers the Prop. 8 case, but from the perspective of a married gay lawyer who was not professionally involved in the case but would be impacted by the result. I found it interesting that both the Yoshino book and this one take their titles from ages old references to marriage and being married. The other title is a play on the part of the marriage ceremony where the officiant addresses the audience regarding whether anyone can show just cause to stop the impending marriage with the phrase “speak now or forever hold your peace”. Then Comes Marriage is part of a childhood taunting rhyme, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes someone with a baby carriage.” Because after the recent rulings that someone could be a man and woman, two women, or two men. Love is love and marriage is finally marriage. But this book, as written by the lawyer who argued the Windsor case, starts at the very beginning. And in this beginning are Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer, two women who pledged their love to each other in 1967, at a time before the Stonewall Riots when they secretly hoped but never expected that the marriage that Thea proposed to Edie could ever be celebrated in the U.S. Although they were not able to marry in the U.S., Edie and a terminally ill Thea flew to Toronto in 2007 to get married. The U.S. recognizes marriages conducted in Canada, but DOMA prevented the U.S. from recognizing Edie’s marriage to Thea. So when Thea died in 2009, the Federal government and New York State presented her with a whopping $600,000 bill for inheritance taxes. Taxes that Edie would not have had to pay if Thea had been Theo or Edie had been Eddie. But not, at that time, both. Edie chose to fight. This was her case. But she won for everyone. Reality Rating A-: It’s pretty clear to anyone who has read my reviews of Speak Now and Forcing the Spring that I am for marriage equality. So I was predisposed to like this book from the outset. As a narrative of the case, it reads differently from Forcing the Spring. That was a legal thriller to rival anything by Grisham. It’s also different because the stars in the Prop 8 case were the two lawyers who argued the case. In Then Comes Marriage, Edie Windsor is the center of the story. Unlike a lot of civil rights legislation, no one went shopping for a perfect set of plaintiffs to represent the spectrum of the case. Edie had a very specific grievance, and she wanted things to be set right. While the money was important, the real issue was that the government said her marriage did not exist, that her 40+ years of living with, loving, and supporting Thea did not count, that they were legally strangers to each other. When the story of Edie’s life with Thea is portrayed, it is crystal clear to the reader just how wrong that was. Also the legal case was very clear and relatively simple. The marriage was legally conducted in Canada. The U.S. recognizes Canadian marriages as valid. What was the rational basis for treating Edie and Thea’s marriage differently? And the court came to the conclusion that there wasn’t one. While the story of Edie’s life felt relevant, the book begins with a section on the lawyer’s life, and how and why she ended up arguing this case. While it seemed fitting that the author’s motives, thoughts and feelings were interjected into the story of the progress of the case at frequent intervals, I wasn’t sure that she was the place to start. The back-to-back biographical sections made the beginning of the book drag just a bit. But once the case starts proceeding through the courts, the narrative tension mounts at a gripping pace. Even though we know how the story ends, the process of getting there still had me opening the book in unlikely places, just to see how things were going. I felt like the protagonists did while waiting to read the rulings, peeking at any interval just to get in a few more words. The author’s description of the aftermath of the case reads like a victory lap. And so it should. Edie Windsor, and the author, made the universe change.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LibraryReads

    “The attorney who argued before the Supreme Court for the plaintiff in this landmark case gives the story behind the headlines. Kaplan integrates personal narrative with legal strategy throughout, combining her own struggles with a fascinating look at the brave and unconventional life led by her client. This is a heartwarming and inspiring account of one widow’s pursuit of justice and dignity.” Darren Nelson, Sno-Isle Libraries, Marysville, WA

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Fettig

    In Then Comes Marriage, Roberta Kaplan, lead attorney in the 2013 US v. Windsor Supreme Court case, details the story behind the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act. Kaplan manages to artfully weave her own biography – the shame of growing up gay in a more conservative time – against the backdrop of an American landscape bedeviled by the Defense of Marriage Act, and the destructive impact that the legislation had on committed same-sex couples – specifically that of Edie Windsor (for whom the S In Then Comes Marriage, Roberta Kaplan, lead attorney in the 2013 US v. Windsor Supreme Court case, details the story behind the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act. Kaplan manages to artfully weave her own biography – the shame of growing up gay in a more conservative time – against the backdrop of an American landscape bedeviled by the Defense of Marriage Act, and the destructive impact that the legislation had on committed same-sex couples – specifically that of Edie Windsor (for whom the SCOTUS case is named) and her late wife, Thea Spyer. Unlike Jo Becker, who tries and fails to maintain a sense of journalistic objectivity in her book, Forcing the Spring (detailing the behind-the-scenes story of Hollingsworth v. Perry ¬– argued before the Supreme Court the day prior to Windsor), Kaplan can, and does, embrace her role as an activist. She tells the story from the perspective of not only a client advocate, but also of someone who is actively affected by the outcome of the case. She does away with all objective pretense – and here that’s okay, because Kaplan is an advocate, and her own story is uniquely intertwined with the case she is arguing. And, while Kaplan’s eagerness to regale the reader with her own life story alongside that of Windsor (something readers interested only in the history of the case may find irritating) slows the narrative from really gathering momentum, it does eventually play well. As the reader learns, Kaplan has unique experience with Spyer many years prior to even meeting Edie Windsor that, if not necessary to the story, is certainly endearing. While Then Comes Marriage has a slow start, it finished powerfully. It shines in a number of areas. First, for readers unfamiliar with the judicial process, this book offers a basic primer that is easy to understand and goes beyond, with Kaplan skillfully injecting a sense of urgency and drama to some relatively mundane legal processes. There is no heavy-handedness in Kaplan’s education of the reader. Further, for readers of Forcing the Spring, or those otherwise familiar with the two cases covered in these two books, it is clear that Kaplan chose a different legal strategy than did the lawyers seeking to overturn California’s Prop 8. While the challengers of Prop 8 chose to pursue a 50-state solution (wholesale legalization of same-sex marriage, Kaplan was skeptical that the Court would be receptive and, instead, deliberately chose to focus on the merits of the Windsor case only. In the end, this pragmatic approach led to a larger victory than did the 50-state approach. Those arguing to overturn Prop 8 won their case on a technicality – the Court found that supporters of Prop 8 did not have standing to sue. As a result, the lower court ruling, overturning Prop 8 and reinstating same-sex marriage in California, went into effect. This was a limited ruling – certainly not a 50-state solution. In Windsor, however, the Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, wholesale, was unconstitutional, delivering a 50-state solution to Kaplan and her team. And, Kaplan does lyrical justice to the storytelling. In the end, Then Comes Marriage is a lovely book. It is carefully rendered quilt – a personal journey of self-acceptance, a civil rights courtroom drama, and, at its heart, a love story. While the story is slow to take flight, it ultimately soars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shea Ivy

    Excellent synopsis of the makings of United States v. Windsor, exploring the life of not only the book's author (and attorney for the plaintiff in this case, Edie Windsor), but also of Ms. Windsor herself. This is partly about the painstaking process of creating the victory in Windsor (naturally leading to Obergefell v. Hodges two years later), and partly about Roberta Kaplan and Edie Windsor, their coming out processes, and the lives they've lived and the women they've loved. The "legalese" is b Excellent synopsis of the makings of United States v. Windsor, exploring the life of not only the book's author (and attorney for the plaintiff in this case, Edie Windsor), but also of Ms. Windsor herself. This is partly about the painstaking process of creating the victory in Windsor (naturally leading to Obergefell v. Hodges two years later), and partly about Roberta Kaplan and Edie Windsor, their coming out processes, and the lives they've lived and the women they've loved. The "legalese" is broken down enough that a non-lawyer can understand it, but not so broken down the a lawyer would be bored reading it (anecdotally, of course, I certainly wasn't bored reading it). Kaplan includes sections of transcripts from oral arguments as well as quotations from briefs. Intertwined with what is arguably one of the most important cases in recent SCOTUS history is the day-to-day living of Kaplan and Windsor as they navigated this path together. Kaplan is remarkably honest about her feelings and reservations about arguing her first case in front of SCOTUS. The Supreme Court bar is largely made up of the same repeat players, and Kaplan was a newbie coming in to argue what was easily the most watched case of our time. She allows the reader to experience that nervousness, reservation, and second-guessing with her, and even recounts a particularly ugly moment when it boiled over during a practice moot. Kaplan is remarkably honest in telling this story, and doesn't try to sanitize it for the reader's benefit. Kaplan also recounts this story with humor, and pulls no punches in describing some of the amici briefs that came in from marriage equality opponents. The Paul Weiss team for the Windsor case was clearly made up of a cast of characters as many of the back-and-forth moments between them make for some laugh-worthy moments in the midst of a significant legal and civil rights moment in our nation's history. Truly excellent read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Purtle

    This work from the attorney who argued the case for Edie Windsor is touching and poignant. I was in tears several times during the reading. Of course, we already know who won, but the build up to the legal parts is intriguing, as well. Once again, I was reminded of the fallibility and questionable reasoning of some of the Supreme Court justices. I will always be a Bader-Ginsberg fan, and I will never be a Scalia fan. Some things always remain the same.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dottie Resnick

    Roberta Kaplan's book is part memoir, part narrative legal case history, insightful, humorous, intimate and educational about the Defense of Marriage Act and it's defeat. There are heart-wrenching stories which bring the degree of the civil rights injustices to light. It shows how some laws, become completely untenable as our society develops and evolves. Roberta Kaplan's book is part memoir, part narrative legal case history, insightful, humorous, intimate and educational about the Defense of Marriage Act and it's defeat. There are heart-wrenching stories which bring the degree of the civil rights injustices to light. It shows how some laws, become completely untenable as our society develops and evolves.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Roger Smitter

    This engaging story about the recent Supreme Court that strict down rules against same sex marriage is a good read for anyone who likes to see how lawyers work. While the first quarter of the book seems a but amateurish, once the law case gets rolling, we see how lawyers (especially young ones) operate. This is a book about strategy and tactics in the court room.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kinser

    A fascinating look into the justice system framed against the backdrop of this high-profile marriage equality case. Highly recommended for those interested in civil rights and social justice.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    What a wonderful read! The story of a Supreme Court case, might be dry and uninteresting - particularly to someone with zero law background like myself. However, Kaplan does such a lovely job of intertwining her own personal story, as well as that of Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the famous case, with the background, historical context and narrative of the case itself and how it came to the Supreme Court. This case was personal to me, certainly. My wife and I had been married for 16 years and o What a wonderful read! The story of a Supreme Court case, might be dry and uninteresting - particularly to someone with zero law background like myself. However, Kaplan does such a lovely job of intertwining her own personal story, as well as that of Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in the famous case, with the background, historical context and narrative of the case itself and how it came to the Supreme Court. This case was personal to me, certainly. My wife and I had been married for 16 years and our son was 8. We had recently emerged victorious from a 18 month hateful, lying, anti-marriage campaign here in Minnesota. And the momentum of the "mean thing backfiring" as my son called it, had propelled us to actually achieve marriage equality at the state level. Then Windsor happened and we found we had federal marriage equality as well. Yet, I only knew the little bit about Edie Windsor I had read in news articles at the time. And I didn't know anything Robbie Kaplan, the author and lawyer who argued the case. It was a deep pleasure to learn about them both and have this behind-the-scenes tour of the case that directly effected myself and my family. It is a true American tale. The best of what we are and what always hope to be.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I read this book for research for a novel I'm writing. I wanted to know what it was like to be the plaintiff in a civil rights case that made it to the Supreme Court. What I did not expect was just how much I would connect to the story. Both Edie Windsor and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan (also the book's author) were Jewish. As a Queer Jewish woman, I connected to these women's stories on a personal level. This book is at once about a historic moment and current events. United States v. Windsor cha I read this book for research for a novel I'm writing. I wanted to know what it was like to be the plaintiff in a civil rights case that made it to the Supreme Court. What I did not expect was just how much I would connect to the story. Both Edie Windsor and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan (also the book's author) were Jewish. As a Queer Jewish woman, I connected to these women's stories on a personal level. This book is at once about a historic moment and current events. United States v. Windsor changed so much for LGBT couples, making it a historic ruling, yet it happened so recently that there are references in the story to iPhones, for example. I read this book to learn; I did not expect it to touch me so personally. I'm glad I picked it up.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert S

    United States v. Windsor is already lauded as a landmark case and there is no doubt that it will eventually join the pantheon of other civil rights cases. The kind of cases which are required reading for anyone wanting to join the law profession or the kind of cases that make it into our history books. Then Comes Marriage is the deeply personal but always insightful take on the case and events of Roberta Kaplan's own life that led her to representing the plaintiffs in the case. While the prose som United States v. Windsor is already lauded as a landmark case and there is no doubt that it will eventually join the pantheon of other civil rights cases. The kind of cases which are required reading for anyone wanting to join the law profession or the kind of cases that make it into our history books. Then Comes Marriage is the deeply personal but always insightful take on the case and events of Roberta Kaplan's own life that led her to representing the plaintiffs in the case. While the prose sometimes leaves something to be desired (Kaplan is a lawyer, not an author after all), it would be near impossible to not find yourself rooting for her and the plaintiffs before the end of the book despite already knowing the verdict.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian Carrillo

    Part memoir, part history, part lesson on the workings of Constitutional law and the appellate court system, superbly written. I listened to the audiobook read by Andrea Gallo, who told the already engaging story brilliantly. Reading this is crucial to understanding what Kaplan calls the "sea change" that occurred between 1996 and 2013 in regards to the American understanding of homosexuality and marriage equality. Part memoir, part history, part lesson on the workings of Constitutional law and the appellate court system, superbly written. I listened to the audiobook read by Andrea Gallo, who told the already engaging story brilliantly. Reading this is crucial to understanding what Kaplan calls the "sea change" that occurred between 1996 and 2013 in regards to the American understanding of homosexuality and marriage equality.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ken Nelson

    Although a dry read, it continues like a mystery unfolding as it presents the narrative of how DOMA was ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court thanks to a courageous woman: Edie Windsor. BRAVO to her and Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who wrote this and along with her team helped this happen for all Americans, not just the LBGTQ community.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    In spite of the facts that I have numerous friends that are gay and have always supported their equality, I knew very little about the incredible legal journey that was fought for them to have those rights. This was a readable look at that very journey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nathanael Rudolph

    This book, which is largely a legal case history, made me cry. It's a compelling story of a few pieces of the legal history of marriage equality in the United States, but beyond that it's a beautiful personal narrative about love and marriage and the significance and impact of legal recognition. This book, which is largely a legal case history, made me cry. It's a compelling story of a few pieces of the legal history of marriage equality in the United States, but beyond that it's a beautiful personal narrative about love and marriage and the significance and impact of legal recognition.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Trista

    Not only does this cover the legal case, but it tells the story of how everyone got to this point in their lives. It is so much deeper than just a legal case. It is a love story of everyone who worked on this case.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Purlewe

    To read about how Windsor and Oberfell were taken to the Supreme Court and won was very powerful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather Henke

    Yes, this book should be on your list even if you already know the ending.

  19. 5 out of 5

    KH Khaw

    A non fiction about the significant lives of many and their contributions in the overturning of DOMA. A well written book. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katharine Kerber

    I don't love reading non-fiction, but I was interested in learning more about the advancements of marriage equality. This narrative was well-written, engaging and touching. I don't love reading non-fiction, but I was interested in learning more about the advancements of marriage equality. This narrative was well-written, engaging and touching.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ladiibbug

    Non-Fiction Written by Roberta Kaplan, an attorney into whose lap fell a challenge to a law that would take her before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was a case of discrimination. Defendant Edie Windsor and her life partner Thea Spyer lived together for over 40 years, including decades of living with Spyer's near total paralysis from multiple sclerosis. Just before Spyer's death from MS, they were legally married in Canada. The U.S. government did not recog Non-Fiction Written by Roberta Kaplan, an attorney into whose lap fell a challenge to a law that would take her before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was a case of discrimination. Defendant Edie Windsor and her life partner Thea Spyer lived together for over 40 years, including decades of living with Spyer's near total paralysis from multiple sclerosis. Just before Spyer's death from MS, they were legally married in Canada. The U.S. government did not recognize legal marriage for same-sex partners at that time, due to DOMA, and Edie was hit with a $663,000 estate tax bill. Author Kaplan, herself a lesbian, deftly weaves a picture of her own person doubts, suffering, and self-loathing, realizing at age 14 that there was something different about her, something that must remain hidden. It was not until she was attending Harvard in 1984 that this terrible secret burden on her soul evolved into the question, "what if I am gay?". Several years later, while attending Columbia Law School, Kaplan was still terrified of the consequences as coming out as gay, even to her gay friends. When Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan met, their 3 year journey to the U.S. Supreme Court began. A wonderful story of the behind-the-scenes tidbits of law in the United States -- the engrossing bits and pieces that make up a trial. This book is never slow; the law on both sides comes alive. It was so interesting to see the exhaustive lengths Edie's attorneys went to in preparing for trial. Edie and Thea's 40 year relationship is interwoven into the legal story, showing how real life people are affected by laws written and put into place by politicians, voting based on their own personal beliefs, or in response to their constituents' personal beliefs, and/or some special interest lobbying group(s) -- when the law is glaringly unconstitutional. DOMA was enacted with the specific purpose of discrimination against the LGBT community, stripping that one specific group of the dignity and right to marry. DOMA's law intentionally placed same-sex couples into a special second-class status. Also interwoven throughout the book is a compelling look at how most of American society's views and opinions of LGBT people have evolved quickly. The author attributes this to the millions of Americans learning, over the last 20 years, that family members, friends, adult children, co-workers, neighbors, etc. are LGTB. That people have come to know people close to them who are LGTB seems to have been the most important factor in changing the hearts and minds of Americans so quickly. I very much enjoyed learning more about the Jewish faith, traditions and religious observances. Kaplan and her wife are both Jewish (they now also have a young son).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenni V.

    Normally I would question including so much of the lawyer's backstory but in this case, I understand. The journeys of Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor, and Thea Spyer were so interesting and it really seems like they all came together in a serendipitous way to take on this battle together. It was the right people at the right place at the right time. It's no secret what this book is about so if you're interested, you won't be disappointed. It presented the behind-the-scenes of how they prepared but i Normally I would question including so much of the lawyer's backstory but in this case, I understand. The journeys of Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor, and Thea Spyer were so interesting and it really seems like they all came together in a serendipitous way to take on this battle together. It was the right people at the right place at the right time. It's no secret what this book is about so if you're interested, you won't be disappointed. It presented the behind-the-scenes of how they prepared but it wasn't dry. I learned new things, not only about this case but also about the Supreme Court in general. And now I want to grab some Kleenex and watch the documentary about Edie and Thea. A Few Quotes from the Book "One of the great benefits of marriage is that it gives couples the opportunity to experience their community rallying around them, to feel the support of loved ones who pledge to celebrate the joyous moments but also to be there for them during the dark times as well. Gay people were never allowed to have that community support, and I think it wounded many of us in many ways. Because we had always been excluded from marriage, many of us had never fully understood what is at the core of the marriage experience - that it is not simply a relationship between two people, but also a relationship between a couple and their larger community." "The footage is a little shaky, the sound quality isn't great, but there they are: Thea, dressed in a black suit and white turtleneck, a corsage of two red roses pinned to her lapel, and Edie, perched on the armrest of Thea's wheelchair, wearing a cream-colored suit and a string of pearls. It is May 22, 2007, and after more than forty years together, seventy-seven-year-old Edie Windsor and seventy-five-year-old Thea Spyer are finally getting married." "In order to make sure I kept my focus where it needed to be, I wrote the following five words on a Post-it note, which I stuck to my laptop screen: "It's all about Edie, stupid."...I wanted to make sure that in all the writing and rewriting, all the back and forth about strategy and tactics and angles, I did not lose sight of the single most important part of our case." Find all my reviews at: http://readingatrandom.blogspot.com/

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: This was an incredible, moving eye-witness account of an important historical event, although there was a bit too much legalese. As a young woman uncomfortable coming out to her family, Robbie Kaplan found solace in her meetings with therapist Thea Spyer. Years later, Robbie's position as a successful lawyer enables her to help Thea's spouse when Thea passes away. Although Thea and Edie had been a couple for decades, had stayed together through Thea's multiple sclerosis, and had been leg Summary: This was an incredible, moving eye-witness account of an important historical event, although there was a bit too much legalese. As a young woman uncomfortable coming out to her family, Robbie Kaplan found solace in her meetings with therapist Thea Spyer. Years later, Robbie's position as a successful lawyer enables her to help Thea's spouse when Thea passes away. Although Thea and Edie had been a couple for decades, had stayed together through Thea's multiple sclerosis, and had been legally married in Canada, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act enabled the state of NY to disregard their marriage. This is Robbie's first hand account of the ground-breaking supreme court case that lead to that act being overturned. This book is more emotional than I typically like my nonfiction to be, but in this case, it was perfect. The author wasn’t inserting her political views or personal stories into a nonfiction book on a topic that could be handled objectively. This was the story of her personal involvement with a very important moment in our history. Her story was the story. I loved the amount of personality, humor, and emotion the author included. She had an amazing ability to make me care about the people she cared about. For the most part, the author’s personal perspective and emotional investment made the legal bits as fascinating and emotional for me as the many moving anecdotes she seamlessly wove into the narrative. I also generally enjoyed having so many primary sources, with direct quotes from the court cases. However, these did sometimes get too technical or too wordy to be enjoyable. That was my only small complaint though. Overall, the author did a great job conveying the emotional and historical significance of every scene. I'd highly recommend this first-hand account of a critical moment in civil rights history. This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  24. 4 out of 5

    Josh Muhlenkamp

    I received this as part of Goodreads' First Reads program. I tend to relatively apathetic on so-called "moral issues." I'm more conservative and religious, but I also dislike government regulation of morals. Well, unless we're criminalizing something. Criminalization is a moral judgment, but a moral judgment that civil society has to make. The criminal code is a minimal moral code, a code that society has decided to say, "If you go past this line, you will be punished." Whether to allow gay marri I received this as part of Goodreads' First Reads program. I tend to relatively apathetic on so-called "moral issues." I'm more conservative and religious, but I also dislike government regulation of morals. Well, unless we're criminalizing something. Criminalization is a moral judgment, but a moral judgment that civil society has to make. The criminal code is a minimal moral code, a code that society has decided to say, "If you go past this line, you will be punished." Whether to allow gay marriage or not is not something our government needs to concern itself with. Robbie Kaplan wouldn't disagree with me. But that's not the focus of her book. She instead focuses on the concepts of dignity and respect that inform the equal protection argument, and understandably so. It's a powerful argument, and one that is legally correct (and yes, I would have said that before the Supreme Court agreed with me)...it's just not the argument that persuades me. This is a fascinating look inside the team that took DOMA to court and won. We don't often get to see inside these kinds of cases, because of concerns such as attorney-client privilege and the busy schedules of the lawyers who would generally write these kinds of books, not to mention that most lawyers lack the ability to write in a clear, engaging manner (seriously...I've read quite a bit of drivel from the pens of lawyers). I give Kaplan all kinds of credit for her writing style. She's engaging, funny (although there are a few inside jokes that aren't nearly as funny to people not on the Windsor team), and writes, well...not like a lawyer. My one criticism: Kaplan frequently (seriously...like every other page) says she was humbled or inspired by all sorts of things. That's a pet peeve of mine; athletes or celebrities who are "humbled" by receiving some sort of award, etc. I'm not going to call her a liar, but it felt disingenuous and excessive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Important book, but I got lost in the legal case descriptions. I really wanted to like this book which tells the tail of bringing down the Defense of Marriage Act via the history of the author and really the couple at the center of it, Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. Spyer died after living with multiple sclerosis for many years, leaving Windsor to pay a large estate tax bill. This is the story detailing the fight for the federal government to recognize their marriage.   I thought the book was at its Important book, but I got lost in the legal case descriptions. I really wanted to like this book which tells the tail of bringing down the Defense of Marriage Act via the history of the author and really the couple at the center of it, Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. Spyer died after living with multiple sclerosis for many years, leaving Windsor to pay a large estate tax bill. This is the story detailing the fight for the federal government to recognize their marriage.   I thought the book was at its strongest when it focused on the lives of Spyer, Windsor, and the author, which serves as the beginning part of the book. But as a non-lawyer, I found the descriptions of the arguments really difficult to get through. While someone more into this or someone with legal training might get more out of it, I really didn't care for it.   Which is not to say the information contained wherein isn't important or shouldn't be read. But someone who isn't into that might have a really difficult time understanding and slogging through the material.   I don't have much to say on this one, since I felt I got more out of reading up on Wikipedia to better understand what I was looking at. And this isn't a book to change minds: this is Kaplan's retelling of a couple's lives and their legal case. I did appreciate seeing what Windsor and Spyer had to go through as well as reading up on Kaplan's experiences (such as being denied being allowed to take her son Jacob out of the hospital nursery because she wasn't recognized as a parent [!!!!]).   Library borrow, but I would venture a guess that anyone interested in LGBT history, legal issues, etc. would also probably find this to be a good resource to have as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Then Comes Marriage details the court case United States v. Windsor in which Edie Windsor sues to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act after her long time partner Thea Spyer dies and she is assessed a large estate tax bill because the federal government doesn't recognize their marriage. Interwoven with the story of their lives together is also the story of Roberta Kaplan who is the lawyer who takes their case to the Supreme Court and who is the author of this book. She details her own law career Then Comes Marriage details the court case United States v. Windsor in which Edie Windsor sues to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act after her long time partner Thea Spyer dies and she is assessed a large estate tax bill because the federal government doesn't recognize their marriage. Interwoven with the story of their lives together is also the story of Roberta Kaplan who is the lawyer who takes their case to the Supreme Court and who is the author of this book. She details her own law career and her own experiences coming to turn terms with her sexuality and creating a family of her own. It's an extremely well written book. Even though I knew the outcome I was still reading with bated breath to find out what was going to happen each step of the way. It's a great look at one of the milestones on the way to making same sex marriage legal across the country. I had received a paperback ARC of this at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco on the day the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was legal. I actually wound up getting an e-book version of the ARC at a later point and am glad I wound up reading that one since it had an epilogue about the ruling that the paperback ARC I had would not have included. It was especially amusing since Kaplan talks about the ruling coming down when she was in San Francisco during Pride when it happened. She happened to be there to do the opening keynote at the conference, so it amused me to read that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Before the end of DOMA, when the non-birth mother in a lesbian relationship tried to check her newborn son out of the hospital to take him and his birth-mom (her partner) home, she was denied. The Defense of Marriage Act was a law which effectively denied gay & lesbian couples from getting married. By extension, it denied them the myriad other rights & responsibilities, which are bestowed upon a married couple at the moment they sign their marriage license. One of those rights is the right for a Before the end of DOMA, when the non-birth mother in a lesbian relationship tried to check her newborn son out of the hospital to take him and his birth-mom (her partner) home, she was denied. The Defense of Marriage Act was a law which effectively denied gay & lesbian couples from getting married. By extension, it denied them the myriad other rights & responsibilities, which are bestowed upon a married couple at the moment they sign their marriage license. One of those rights is the right for a spouse to inherit without taxation. This is what Roberta Kaplan and Edie Windsor were fighting for. This is part biography, as Kaplan tells the story of Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor (on whose behalf she successfully argued the case). It is part legal thriller, as she gives readers a fly-on-the-wall experience of putting together and arguing her case before the Supreme Court justices. Where Kaplan shines best, though, is in telling her own story, including her personal and professional struggle with coming out. Her depiction of the moment in the hospital, when the legal ramifications of DOMA hit her in the most personal way possible was particularly moving. When Robbie Kaplan argued her case in December 2013, there were only 9 states that had legalized marriage. Kaplan draws the story of the legal fight to bring down DOMA into sharp focus by making it a gripping, personal story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    I'm a lawyer with a strong interest in constitutional law, and I have a gay daughter. So I had plenty of reason to find this book of interest, which I very much did. I was, however, put off at first by the author's almost immediate and somewhat lengthy plunge into her own personal history. That history proved to be quite relevant as well as intertwined, indirectly and even directly, with the story of Edie Windsor, whose remarkable forty-plus year love story led to the landmark Windsor case. I su I'm a lawyer with a strong interest in constitutional law, and I have a gay daughter. So I had plenty of reason to find this book of interest, which I very much did. I was, however, put off at first by the author's almost immediate and somewhat lengthy plunge into her own personal history. That history proved to be quite relevant as well as intertwined, indirectly and even directly, with the story of Edie Windsor, whose remarkable forty-plus year love story led to the landmark Windsor case. I suspect, however, that there was a better way to incorporate it. I don't know whether non-lawyers will have any problem following Kaplan's explanations of the key doctrines and the procedural path the case had to follow. I think Kaplan did as well as anyone could in bringing the lay reader along on this journey. And the tale of Edie and Thea, as well as Roberta Kaplan and her own struggles and triumphs, is engrossing and moving.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Roden

    I drew out my time reading this because I wanted it to last. Robbie isn't a novelist so it's not the most literary book I've read this year, but the care she puts into her briefs for her clients comes through in this beautiful story. It reads as if she's telling you about the case over wine one evening; she fills you in on the inside jokes and the coincidences, making the legal jargon understandable and more importantly – relatable. What struck me most is how incredible the story is, from the pa I drew out my time reading this because I wanted it to last. Robbie isn't a novelist so it's not the most literary book I've read this year, but the care she puts into her briefs for her clients comes through in this beautiful story. It reads as if she's telling you about the case over wine one evening; she fills you in on the inside jokes and the coincidences, making the legal jargon understandable and more importantly – relatable. What struck me most is how incredible the story is, from the parallels of her life and Edie's to the meditation on Judaism throughout the book. Learn about this chapter of history, cry at these love stories, and celebrate this book about two Jewish lesbians who grew in different times and in our time, made a difference that helped change America. It was an honor to meet her and personally thank her for the work she has done for LGBT rights.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Whether you know the story of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer and/or the case United States v. Windsor, this an extraordinarily gripping, moving, and even entertaining book. If you have concerns about getting bogged down in legalease and lawyerly jargon, don’t. Kaplan’s writing is clear, concise and accessible and deftly weaves her personal story with that of Edie and Thea and the larger marriage equality movement. Even knowing the outcome of the case, this read like a suspenseful page-turner. This Whether you know the story of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer and/or the case United States v. Windsor, this an extraordinarily gripping, moving, and even entertaining book. If you have concerns about getting bogged down in legalease and lawyerly jargon, don’t. Kaplan’s writing is clear, concise and accessible and deftly weaves her personal story with that of Edie and Thea and the larger marriage equality movement. Even knowing the outcome of the case, this read like a suspenseful page-turner. This is one of the best pieces of narrative non-fiction I have ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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