Edith Windsor remembered for her monumental fight for marriage equality

Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the landmark 2013 Supreme Court that laid the groundwork for nationwide gay marriage rights, died Tuesday.

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

Doma, as the law was known, prevented countless of same-sex couples across the country from claiming a huge array of federal benefits accessible to heterosexual spouses, and epitomized discrimination in the eyes of the gay rights community.

Windsor was 81 when she sued the federal government in 2010 over the Defense of Marriage Act following the death of her first spouse, Thea Spyer. "She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community which she loved so much and which loved her right back", she added.

Spyer proposed with a diamond brooch, in order for the couple to keep their relationship a secret. "One simply can not write the history of the gay rights movement without reserving huge credit and gratitude for Edie Windsor". She did not say how her wife died.

Windsor married her wife in 2016 after same-sex marriage became legal in all states. At the time, some gay-rights activists anxious it simply might be too soon to have their day in court, concerned - as Mary Bonauto of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders put it at the time - that the Supreme Court would want to be sure "they are not too far ahead of public opinion".

Windsor became a full-time carer eventually after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. The marriage was over within a year, and Windsor moved to NY and eventually became immersed in the gay community. In 2007, the couple flew to Toronto, Canada, for a ceremony before six of their closest friends. Spyer died in 2009, following a long illness. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) denied her unlimited spousal exemption and she had to pay taxes of $363,053. "I thank you all for this great world I live in". "And it meant selling a lot of stuff to do it and it wasn't easy". Judith Kasen-Windsor, whom Windsor married past year, confirmed her death in a statement. Even that ruling met with obstacles in some states. "Today, JTS signed on to a brief at the United States Supreme Court arguing that the marriages of gay people should be respected under the law". Her late-in-life court victory, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage at the federal level, served as a fittingly seismic cap to a life of hard-fought activism. But in 2015, the Supreme Court struck down some 37 state marriage bans, giving same-sex couples the right to marry from coast to coast. And she said, "Oh, it was nothing, it had no effect on me at all". "I didn't think it would happen again and it did.

She will go down in the history books as a true American hero", said Roberta ("Robbie") Kaplan, Edie Windsor's attorney.

  • Kyle Peterson