WASHINGTON (TIP): At a time India’s Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that consensual homosexual engagement in India is illegal, Time magazine has chosen Edith Windsor, the pioneering American lesbiangay rights activist, as its Person of the Year runner-up. The Person of the Year is Pope Francis, who himself has been more understanding of same-sex relationship. Windsor, who is now 84, showed America and the world that love is not limited by gender, much less age. At 77, she married her long time partner Thea Clara Spyer, with whom she had lived in New York City for nearly 45 years, after they found the latter was suffering from a debilitating heart condition.
When Spyer died in 2009, Windsor, then 80, inherited her property. But the US government did not recognize the marriage under a 1996 law, as a result of which the Internal Revenue Service declined to treat Windsor as a surviving spouse and slapped a tax bill of about $360,000 that a spouse in an opposite-sex marriage would not have had to pay. Windsor sued, and in a cascade of rulings that followed, leading up to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2012, same-sex marriages came to be recognized as a legal union in many states. Windsor’s fight against the so-called DoMA ( Defense of Marriage Act), which outlawed same-sex unions, came at time when a majority of Americans — for the time in history, according to Gallup — supported legalizing gay marriage.
It is uncertain whether a similar sentiment exists in India, or if the current imbroglio will engender such feelings in a country that has been historically tolerant. But on Wednesday, following the SC ruling, there was a surge of sympathy and support for India’s discriminated L-G community from activists in the US, with hopes that the reversal will be temporary. “Today’s ruling is a setback. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that the recent past has seen promise for LGBTQ rights in not just India, but also other South Asian countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. We stand in solidarity with the brave activists in South Asia and worldwide who have taken such huge leaps in recent years and know they will continue the fight for equality in spite of the disappointment we all feel today,” said Sapna Pandya, President of the Washington DC based Khush.
In Sept, the Pope said the Vatican must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, and become more merciful. In July, he said he was not in a position to judge homosexuals who are of good will and in search of God.