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To A More Perfect Union
To A More Perfect Union: U.S. v Windsor tells a story of love, marriage and a fight for equality. The film chronicles unlikely heroes -- octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, on their quest for justice. Beyond the story of what became the pivotal case in the marriage equality movement and the compelling personal, legal and political stories behind it, the film also chronicles our continued journey as a people, as a culture, and as citizens with the promise of equal rights.
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To A More Perfect Union

Running Time
Feature Film
63 minutes

To A More Perfect Union

The definition of equality in America was fundamentally changed on June 26th, 2013 with the Supreme Court’s ruling on US vs. Windsor. The story behind this case and the surprising legal drama surrounding it as it worked its way to the highest court in the land, is the subject of the feature documentary, To A More Perfect Union: US vs. Windsor.

On November 9th, 2010, an 81-year-old widow named Edie Windsor, filed a lawsuit contesting the estate taxes she had been forced to pay upon the death of her spouse, because that spouse was a woman. After having her case turned down by major gay rights organizations, Windsor found a champion in Roberta Kaplan, a senior partner at the prestigious corporate law firm, Paul Weiss: The traits that others saw as liabilities, Kaplan saw as assets, viewing Windsor as the perfect plaintiff – and ultimately, was proven correct in her analysis. They were two women a generation apart, both pioneers in their respective fields – Windsor, one of the first leaders in the field of computer programming at the corporate giant IBM, and Kaplan one of the leading women in corporate law – that successfully waged a battle together for justice that many – including some in the gay rights community –thought unwinnable. With the Supreme Court’s ordering of a tax refund to Windsor, it struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. No longer could the federal government discriminate against same sex marriages.

To A More Perfect Union: US vs. Windsor tells the story of Windsor and Kaplan’s quest for justice. Their journey is told in their own words, and through interviews with members of the legal team, movement activists, legal analysts, well-known supporters and opponents. More broadly, the film also chronicles the rapid and dramatic shift in both public and political opinion about gay rights and more specifically, marriage equality – the latest chapter in the civil rights movement.

Filmmaker Notes:

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s landmark Windsor decision, I had the opportunity to hear the plaintiff, Edie Windsor, and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, speak about it. I found the duo incredibly articulate, compelling, smart and attractive, and found the story of their case to be unexpected, heroic and important. I loved the fact that they were women of two different generations who banded together to fight for what they believed in and in doing so, changed our country for the better. I saw immediately that the personal stories of both Edie and Robbie told the bigger story of the history of gay rights in this country and even more broadly, the latest chapter of the civil rights movement. I was also interested in telling their stories because I believe there is a paucity of films about women and women leaders, and because I felt that the case itself was not getting the attention that it deserved as the pivotal case in the marriage equality movement. Finally, I believe that the story of the case itself takes on even greater importance now as hard-fought rights are being revisited and challenged in today’s political environment – and sadly, as Edie Windsor has recently passed away.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2017
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