Same-sex marriage legend Edith Windsor dies at 88
Activist Edie Windsor, whose lawsuit eventually led to same-sex marriage being legalised in all 50 states has died aged 88.
Windsor was the lead plaintiff in the 2013 case which led to the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act effectively giving recognition to same-sex marriage in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
This led to a wider 2015 ruling which legalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
She died aged 88 in Manhattan on Tuesday, said her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor, who did not give a cause.
The couple married back in 2016 after same-sex marriage became legal in all states.
Windsor had filed her lawsuit with a view to getting a tax refund, but the lawsuit went much further than that.
She had been affected by the Defense of Marriage Act which had banned same-sex couples from being recognised as “spouses” federally.
Her late wife Thea Spyer, who Windsor married in Canada in 2007 after being together for 40 years, had left her estate to Windsor, but the IRS had denied her the spousal exemption from federal estate taxes, which was then given to straight couples, when Spyer died in 2009.
This led to Windsor paying taxes of $363,053 and filing her lawsuit which accused the federal government of singling out same-sex partners for “differential treatment”.
The Supreme Court later bolstered the rulings of two lower courts in a 5-4 ruling, which states that nobody should be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
After the ruling in Windsor’s case, same-sex marriage was still left illegal in 37 states.
But she was congratulated by President Barack Obama, and she later served as the Grand Marshal of New York City’s Pride March.
She was also featured as Time magazine’s runner up person of the year in 2013.
Born in 1929 to Jewish Parents, Windsor was the youngest of three, and was born Edith Schlain.
She had been engaged to her brother’s friend Saul Windsor and married him later after falling in love with a female classmate.
Windsor later married Windsor after attaining a bachelors degree from Temple in 1950 but divorced after less than a year.
“Finally, I said, ‘Honey, you deserve more,’ ” Ms. Windsor told The New York Times.
“‘You deserve someone who feels you’re the most desirable person, and I need something else.’ And I was right. He married the right girl and had a lovely life.”
She later received a masters degree in applied mathematics from New York University.
She had kept her sexual orientation a secret from colleagues for years and met Spyer in 1963 at a restaurant.
The couple were featured on a poster outside the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, placed in 2013.
They officially started dating in 1965 and in 1967, Spyer proposed to Windsor, which led to a long engagement of 40 years.
Spyer proposed with a diamond brooch, in order for the couple to keep their relationship a secret.
Windsor became a full-time carer eventually after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977.
The couple entered a domestic partnership in 1993 when a law was introduced in 1993.
They travelled to marry in Canada after Spyer had a heart attack in 2002 with six friends.
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Windsor is now survived by Kasen-Windsor, Windsor’s wife. The couple married on 26 September 2016.
The couple had met at a gay rights event and began dating in 2015 and lived together in Manhattan.
Commending Windsor for her campaigning work, President Obama said: “Sometimes,” he said, “there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and President of GLAAD commented on Windsor’s passing, saying: “Edie Windsor is a legend who changed the course of history for the better. She touched countless lives, and we at GLAAD are deeply saddened by her passing, but her kindness, compassion, and legacy will endure.”