Story at a glance

  • Real-life women last month were transformed into superheroes by DC Comics to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman, among them marriage equality advocate Edith Windsor.
  • The case Windsor v. United States deemed the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and gave federal benefits and protections to same-sex spouses.
  • Her story was brought to life by writer Amanda Deibert and her wife, illustrator Cat Staggs, whose own marriage was influenced by Windsor.

Twenty-three “true” superheroes have been immortalized by DC Comics in its recently released “Wonderful Women of the World,” published last month on the superhero Wonder Woman’s 80th birthday. That list wouldn’t be complete without Edith Windsor, whose landmark Supreme Court case is widely considered the second most important ruling in the battle for same-sex marriage rights.

After a 40 year engagement with her partner, Thea Spyer, Windsor and Spyer were married in Canada in 2007 before returning to their home in New York. Spyer died shortly after, and, because federal law at the time did not allow the Internal Revenue Service to recognize Windsor as a surviving spouse, she was taxed roughly $360,000 for the property she inherited from Spyer.

Handed down in 2013, the Windsor Decision deemed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, unconstitutional, giving federal benefits and protections to same-sex spouses.

Windsor’s story was brought to life by comic book writer Amanda Deibert and her wife, illustrator Cat Staggs. Their own love story was heavily influenced by Windsor’s advocacy.


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“The concept was to take the story of Edie Windsor and everything that she did not just for herself but the whole community and make it global and personal,” Diebert told the Advocate on Thursday. “So instead of a biography, it is about her and all of us. We also really wanted to share her impact on our own lives on a personal level. We are women who are grateful to her and who look to her as a role model and icon.”

“Getting to share a truly great love story with the world that we don’t always get to see is incredibly moving and meaningful,” Staggs said.

Deibert and Staggs first met in 2008, marrying three years later. But their marriage wasn’t at the time recognized by the state of California because of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative which halted same-sex marriages in the state. 

Same-sex marriages resumed in 2013 after more than 4 years of legal battles.

“When we got married, we traveled to New York as soon as it was legal there because at the time it wasn’t here,” Deibert said. “Our commitment to each other and as a family was never in question, but the legal protections are important to us, especially as mothers.”

The couple said they were married in “phases,” and they committed to each other again in 2015, when same-sex marriage became legal nationally.

Staggs told the Advocate that despite the barriers they’ve faced through their relationship, there was a silver lining in marrying her partner multiple times.

“Having to do things in parts, getting married over the course of multiple years, made us appreciate it more,” she said.


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Published on Nov 18, 2021