Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Edie Windsor, the Matriarch of Marriage Equality, Dies at 88 - Reactions

Edie Windsor, the Matriarch of Marriage Equality, Dies at 88 - Reactions

Edith Windsor, the same-sex marriage activist who served as the lead plaintiff in the 2013 Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, died Tuesday at 88 years old.

Represented by NY lesbian attorney Roberta Kaplan and the American Civil Liberties Union, Windsor sued the US government for enforcing DOMA after it forced her to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of Spyer, who died of a heart condition after the two were together 44 years.

"DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells these couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition", Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. It was this injustice that set Windsor on a path to challenge - and eventually win her case against - the United States over the Defense of Marriage Act. This time, in contrast to 1969, the whole city was there to join the celebration. Windsor, an enthusiastic supporter of Clinton in her bid for the White House, said she was "so honored" the candidate chose her as a role model. "I live on a fixed income and it wasn't easy".

Born in 1929 to Jewish Parents, Windsor was the youngest of three, and was born Edith Schlain. She grew up a serious student who did well in school, and in 1946, she enrolled at Temple University. She chose to file a suit. They divorced less than a year later. The cause of death wasn't given, but Windsor had struggled with heart issues for years.

Her wife, she said, would have been proud of her achievement. If my parents had known the truth, would they have stopped loving me? "I didn't think it would happen again and it did".

She met Spyer in 1963, but, as BuzzFeed recounted in 2013, the two did not get together until two years later.

In 1967, Windsor proposed to Spyer. "We made love all afternoon and went dancing at night - and that was the beginning", Windsor recalled decades later in the documentary Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.

Windsor's first spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. Windsor remarried in 2016. They became partners in the 1960s and were finally able to marry in Canada in 2007.

Had she and Spyer been a heterosexual married couple whose marriage was recognized by the government, Windsor would have been exempt from having to pay the estate taxes.

Ms. Windsor was a staple of the Hamptons LGBTQ community and served as honorary chair alongside her wife of the annual Hampton Tea Dance in July, an LGBTQ celebration originally produced by the Empire Pride Agenda, an organization that disbanded in 2015 for which Ms. Windsor served as a marriage ambassador.

Windsor's advocacy impacted the lives of many, especially same-sex couples in the USA who aspire to marry the one they love.

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