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Edith Windsor, NY pioneer of marriage equality, dies at 88

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Love made Edith Windsor a married woman. Widowhood made her a gay rights pioneer.

Facing a big tax bill after the death of her first spouse, Windsor took on the federal law that prevented her from enjoying the same inheritance tax break she would have gotten if she was married to a man.

She took the fight to the Supreme Court, which struck down critical parts of a U.S. marriage law in a ruling that helped pave a path toward legalizing same-sex nuptials nationwide.

Windsor, who marveled at the arc of gay rights in her lifetime, died Tuesday (Sept. 12, 2017)  in New York at age 88, said her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan. The cause of her death wasn't given, but she had struggled with heart issues.

"I grew up knowing that society thought I was inferior," she said in 2012. "Did I ever think we would be discussing equality in marriage? Never. It was just so far away."

Windsor was 81 when she brought a lawsuit that proved to be a turning point for gay rights. The impetus was the 2009 death of her spouse, Thea Spyer, a psychologist.

The women had married legally in Canada in 2007 after spending more than 40 years together, but under the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act she was barred from getting the usual exemption from federal taxes on Spyer's estate. That meant Windsor faced a $360,000 tax bill that heterosexual couples would not have.

Outraged, she went to court, knowing that the case was about more than taxes or even marriage.

"It's a very important case. It's bigger than marriage, and I think marriage is major. I think if we win, the effect will be the beginning of the end of stigma," she said in 2012 after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Win she did: The justices ruled 5-4 in June 2013 that a provision in the law barring the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex unions was unconstitutional.

The opinion didn't legalize same-sex marriage, but it marked a key moment of encouragement for gay marriage supporters then confronting a nationwide patchwork of laws that outlawed such unions in roughly three dozen states.

It also affronted conservatives who hewed to defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Then-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia predicted the ruling would be used to upend state restrictions on marriage and warned: "The only thing that will 'confine' the court's holding is its sense of what it can get away with."

Ultimately, the opinion in Windsor's case became the basis for a wave of federal court rulings that struck down state marriage bans and led to a 2015 Supreme Court ruling giving same-sex couples the right to marry from coast to coast.

Former President Barack Obama called Windsor one of the "quiet heroes" whose persistence had furthered the cause of equality.

"Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor — and few made as big a difference to America," the Democrat said in a statement Tuesday, adding that he had spoken to her a few days earlier.

Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called Windsor "one of this country's great civil rights pioneers."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said he was heartbroken by the death of a woman who "embodied the New York spirit, taking it upon herself to tear down barriers for others."

Windsor was born in Philadelphia and moved to Manhattan in the early 1950s after a brief marriage to a man. The marriage ended after she told him she was gay.

Spyer came into her life in 1963, and they became a couple two years later. In court documents, Windsor said she told Spyer, "'If it still feels this goofy joyous, I'd like us to spend the rest of our lives together.' And we did."

Concerned that an engagement ring would bring unwanted attention to Windsor's sexual orientation, Spyer gave her a diamond brooch instead. It was, Windsor later said in court documents, "just one of many ways in which Thea and I had to mold our lives to make our relationship invisible."

Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. The women married in Canada when they realized they might not live long enough to see New York legalize same-sex marriage. It did in 2011.

Last year, Windsor married her current spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, a banker.

Read more here:

Hurricane cancellation of Sept. 10 service

In light of Hurricane Irma’s potential impact on our area the Board of New Church Family has decided to cancel services for Sunday, September 10 in the interest of safety for all friends and members of our church family. This also includes cancellation of the Board of Directors meeting that was scheduled to take place following Sunday’s service and refreshments.

As of this writing it is not clear how severely our area will be impacted but it seems certain that we will most likely experience at least tropical force winds perhaps as early as Saturday. Some in our area may be bombarded to a greater degree. We do not want you on the road. Stay home! Batten down the hatches! You may need to be right where you are to help your neighbor.

Shelter: If there is a need for evacuations we recommend that you attempt to use a shelter as close to your home as possible. Our church will be available for those who need shelter in a more substantial building and cannot find a suitable shelter closer to home. If you plan to shelter at the church you should bring your medical supplies, water, food, bedding (an air mattress is a good idea), an extra cell phone battery, and maybe deodorant! There is limited bottled water at the church for an emergency in case we do not have access to the municipal water supply. You are familiar with the church layout so it should be no surprise that the there is limited capacity for handling other than smaller pets. Your pet will need bedding, food, perhaps water, and will need to be carefully attended so to avoid soiling carpeted areas.

The time at which the church will be opened for shelter will be posted to this group Facebook site as soon as that decision is made. We continue to watch the progress of the storm.

Disclaimer: The church building is NOT an authorized public shelter. Your use of the church as shelter is at your own risk. The church cannot be liable for your safety. The building has several large windows and NO hurricane shutters. The sanctuary is likely the safest part of the building should we receive a direct hit by the storm. We have no generator capacity so if the power goes out we will have neither air conditioning or fans.

Prayers of the People -- Sept. 3, 2017

NCF Prayers of the People Sept. 3, 2017

HEALING – For Paul K., recovering from a stroke in East Hartford Conn. For Keith’s shoulder pain. For Aris. For Jerry C., preparing for a hip replacement.
CONDOLENCES -- For Judy L. on the passing of her life partner Gayle Meade on Sunday.
SAFE TRAVEL – For Jessie, 22, making his first airplane flight to visit his mom in Cleveland. For Jen, visiting family in Connecticut.
STRENGTH & COURAGE – For flood victims in Texas. Thanksgiving for the many people risking their lives to help their neighbors.
SAFETY for people in Florida as Hurricane Irma edges toward the Caribbean and South Florida.
GUIDANCE for Dean H. and his spouse as they get resettled in the Daytona area. Thanksgiving for Jerry N.’s hospitality.

Prayers of the People -- Aug. 27, 2017

PRAYERS of the PEOPLE -- Aug 27, 2017
SAFETY & COURAGE – For Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.
HEALING – For James Mattson, 25 and a new father – he is in urgent need of a kidney transplant; For a member’s sister Bonnie, facing cancer surgery; for Carol Pyle’s peace of mind as she deals with cancer; for Aris, preparing for ostomy-reversal surgery; For Jay, who was in the ER last Sunday for breathing and swallowing problems – a thyroid mass may be complicating his COPD.
SAFE TRAVEL – For church members visiting friends and families.
GUIDANCE – For Rev. Donna’s daughter and son in law as they find their place in this world.
THANKSGIVING – For New Church Family’s ministry and unity.

Book Review -- "The Year of Magical Thinking"

Review – “Year of Magical Thinking”

Contributed by Tom Brown

   Author Joan Didion, in a spellbinding 227-page memoir, takes readers through a heart-wrenching double disaster. First, the shock of seeing her adult daughter Quintana nearly die from pneumonia in the Christmas season of 2003. Then, only two weeks later, watching her husband, critic John Gregory Dunne, collapse and die of a coronary during dinner in their Manhattan apartment.

     When her husband’s body was rolled into an emergency room and pronounced dead, one medic remarked to another that Didion was a “cool customer” and didn’t need a sedative. Didion’s story tracks her roller-coaster emotional state over the subsequent year, documenting that, internally, she was anything but a “cool customer” despite her efforts to carry on as normally as possible. Although she didn’t enroll in grief therapy, Didion’s tale suggests that perhaps she should have. Instead, she focused, understandably, on her daughter’s continuing medical needs, suppressing her own emotions. If there is any lesson to be learned from the book, it’s not to underestimate the impact of grief, nor to assume it will begin fading within days or weeks of a funeral.

     What makes Didion’s account remarkable is her honesty in detailing how a couple becomes intertwined after decades together, no matter how intellectually independent they imagine themselves to be. In the case of Didion and Dunne, the bonding was unusually pervasive because they spent almost all their marriage working together every day in the same house. Hardly an hour would go by when they wouldn’t say something to each other, or show each other something they had just read or written. They seldom were apart for more than a few days. And while they had their arguments, and even talked of divorce, their periods of intense anger rarely lasted more than a day or two.

     She writes at length about little changes in her husband’s behavior shortly before his attack, and seemingly random comments that he had made. She wrestles with the possibility that these were premonitions or warning signs that she missed as they both were keeping an anguished watch over their daughter, who at times was in an induced coma.

   As she replays events and dialogue in her mind, she sometimes imagines she could bring John back if she did one little thing differently. She wonders if the clumsy Heimlich maneuver she tried to perform, mistakenly thinking her husband was choking, was a fatal error. Would CPR have saved him in the five minutes it took for the ambulance to show up?

     It takes her several months before she can bear to give away his clothes. And months more before she can handle driving past places where they had lived or enjoyed meals together.

     There are some gaps in her confessional narrative that many would be curious about. She sidesteps discussing the romantic aspects of their marriage and whether she still felt sexually alive either before or after her husband’s death. No mention of any jealousy or possible infidelity, or even whether such episodes colored her grief.

     Yet time does provide a degree of healing. At the end of her “year,” the feeling of loss still remains, and she hasn’t remarried, as her husband had once predicted. But she finally has reached the point of recognizing that Dunne finally is done – past tense, gone forever – and that his death was not preventable.

       “…If we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead,” she concludes.

       She also comes to realize that all of reality is a process of continual change. Restaurants they once enjoyed together will go out of business, buildings where they lived will be remodeled or demolished, and even the mountain landscapes they admired will erode into the sea.


Prayers of the People -- Aug. 13, 2017

Prayer List for AUG 13, 2017

HEALING – Slava asks prayers for a favorable CT test scheduled for his spouse Marty. For a friend of Lois’s family, struggling with cancer. For Becki, not feeling well. For Clarence, recovering from neck and spinal injury in a traffic accident. For Jay, starting a powerful new drug for his COPD on Wednesday; side effects could be risky but his doctors are optimistic.
THANKSGIVING - -That T-Bear received a favorable report on her biopsy.
RECONCILIATION – For a member in conflict with a brother. For protesters in Charlottesville, Va.
PEACE – for Korea, Guam, Syria, Iraq, Israel and all other battlegrounds.
SAFE TRAVEL for Gil heading to RI, Paul in Connecticut and other members on the road.

Prayers of the People -- Aug. 6, 2017

Prayers gathered at our Aug. 6 worship service:
HEALING -- For Clarence, struck by a scooter driver who was texting as he drove; for Becki’s son Stephen, getting mesh repair inside his skull; for Peter and Teresa’s husband Rick, both recovering from hernia surgery; for Dave L., continuing radiation treatment. For Aris, for regaining strength and nutrition. For Bonnie, awaiting results of a biopsy. For Rev. Debbie's spouse Lynda in Hendersonville NC, in pain after surgery. For longtime MCC music evangelist Delores Berry, hospitalized with kidney problems. For anyone coming to our church in need of healing physically, emotionally or spiritually.
CONDOLENCES – Ron and Clarence ask prayers for family of Dave McBrayne, a friend who passed away Friday. For Clair, whose husband Dave has died. For the family of columnist Mark Lane, his mother died a few days ago at 86. (Rev. Wiley conducted a beautiful memorial on Monday.) For Anthony in RI (Jay’s cousin) – Anthony’s father died last week after 3 years in a nursing home. For Larry C. in Miami, mourning the loss of long-time church pianist Barry Underwood.
SAFE TRAVEL – For Alyce and Jeanie, traveling to NY for their NY wedding. For Frank O. as he enjoys his Canadian vacation. For Dave & Merrill and other NCF members on vacation trips. For Brittany & family, returning to NC.
GUIDANCE -- For Deb and Cindy as they launch a new clinic on Beville Road.
Prayers gathered at our Aug. 6 worship service:

GLBT Book Club forming

Several NCF members have expressed interest in trying to form a “gay book club” to meet once a month or so. We have set SEPT 27, 6:30 p.m. for our first meeting, which will be at church for an hour or so. The book we’ll discuss is a David Sedaris collection of humorous semi-autobiographical essays “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.”
Some of you may have read one of the earlier humor books by Sedaris, a gay author who has written “Santaland Diaries," "Me Talk Pretty Some Day, "Naked" and several others. This Owls book is available at most branches of the Volusia County library. Also Tom Brown has ordered a few used copies, which will cost $4 apiece for softcover, $5 for hardcover. Those who prefer brand new copies can go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other sites, or call your favorite bookstore. You can find reviews of Owls at -- its overall rating is 3.8 out of 4 stars.

   The book group is open to anyone  -- you don't have to be a church member (or GLBT) to take part. We hope everyone who shows up for the first meeting will bring a suggestion for Book No. 2. We can put the titles in a bucket and have a drawing, or else just discuss them and reach a consensus. It doesn’t necessarily have to be GLBT-themed. Please let Tom know if you plan to attend or want to order the Sedaris book. Tom can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message or text at 386-576-6671

Our Prayer List July 23, 2017

Prayers gathered at our July 23 service
HEALING – For Dean H.’s stroke; for Carol Pyles; for John & Dave’s Edgewater neighbor Peggy, taken away by ambulance Sunday morning; for Ron’s Aunt Rosie; for Clarence’s neighbor, going thru a tough time after facing a pull-the-plug decision; for Jerry N.’s aunt Catherine, now has a trach in place; for John Davis, in bad shape after heart surgery. For Teresa’s husband Rick, facing possible hernia repair surgery. For Dave L.'s radiation treatments.
COMFORT – For the family of Harold C., the Alzheimer’s patient whose body was found in a Fairmount Road back yard on Sunday.
THANKSGIVING – Aris thanks the many people who prayed for her during her long illness.
SAFE TRAVEL – For Rev. Donna’s sister.
ADOPTION -- For the small German shepherd who needs a home & yard (contact Char for details)

Share Your Recipes for the "New Church Family & Friends Cookbook"

       Members and friends of New Church Family are invited to share one or two of their favorite recipes for a fundraiser cookbook we hope to publish in the fall. Please type, print out or carefully hand-print your recipe and submit it to Tom Brown or Char Rywant. (Information can be e-mailed to Tom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )  Please include a sentence or two that tells why this recipe is special to you or your family. Include your name and city. 

       We aim to collect at least 100 recipies and plan to sell the cookbook for $10 each. If you or your business would like to help support the project as a sponsor, donate $20 or more, and you will receive a copy of the cookbook plus have your name listed on the Sponsors page.

         Members of other churches and organizations are welcome to participate as well, and we'll be glad to include the name of your group.


Prayer List July 16, 2017

Prayer List July 16, 2017
Prayers gathered at our July 16 service
GUIDANCE – Lois asks God to help volunteers locate the elderly veteran who wandered away from his nursing home several days ago. Courage for his family. For Nick to find a job. For Lamont in Michigan.
HEALING – For Jerry N’s aunt on life support in Alabama. For Keith G.’s back; for Heather’s co-worker, awaiting a heart transplant; for Heather’s Aunt Jan, suffering from Alzheimer’s; Frank asks prayers for Carman, who broke a hip, wrist, knee and ankle; for Jan’s ankle; for Joan’s cancer; for Carol Pyles, fighting cancer. For Suzie, recovery from heart attack. For Dean and John, rest and relief from pain.
PRAISES - -Lois is glad her friend Frances is doing well with a new pacemaker. We’re thankful Aris was strong enough to rejoin us at worship. Tom thankful 2 relatives are out of danger – sister Dawn who lives near a wildfire in Oroville, Calf, and niece Sharon, near the sink hole in Land O Lakes Fl.
SAFE TRAVEL – For Frank heading to Canada on Friday, and those helping him with the trip.


Find Us

New Church Family
3520 W. Int'l Speedway Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32124

Driving directions