Edith Windsor, Same-Sex Marriage Pioneer, Dies at 88

Edith Windsor plaintiff in 2013 same-sex marriage case dead at 88

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Her case ended up all the way at the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in the end of DOMA.

As a married gay American, I owe a debt of gratitude to Edith Windsor, the famous litigant whose crusade for a tax refund became the landmark case of United States v. Windsor. As her condition grew steadily worse, she and Windsor chose to travel to Canada to get married, which they did in 2007.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929 to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Windsor's life and battle for equal rights led to major victories for the LGBTI community in the United States. And like they first did at the Greenwich Village restaurant Portofino in 1963, they danced, Edie on the arm of Thea's wheelchair.

In 1967, Windsor proposed to Spyer. In 2013, Windsor endorsed Quinn for mayor.

"Married is a magic word", Windsor said at a rally at City Hall in NY in 2009, shortly before Spyer died. "I truly believe that we're strong and that we're strong together".

Windsor, who retired as a senior programmer at IBM, remained Jewishly involved. They marched as part of the gay rights demonstrations unleashed by the Stonewall Riots of 1969, and whenever they got the chance, they went dancing.

Nina notes there was nowhere for them to marry at the time; it would take decades - and one "lousy prognosis" for Spyer's multiple sclerosis - before the pair finally headed to Toronto to obtain their same-sex marriage, which was also recognized by NY. Spyer was a psychologist with a large NY practice.

They travelled to marry in Canada after Spyer had a heart attack in 2002 with six friends. "My fiancé, Steve, and I owe her and those who fought in the courts with her for the very fact that we can be married this year".

She was a finalist for Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2013 (Pope Francis ultimately got the honor) and was invited the next year to a state dinner at the White House, honoring then-French President Francois Hollande. In a 5-4 decision, USA v. Windsor, the majority said DOMA violated the Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law". I mean, forget all the financial stuff. "I live on a fixed income and it wasn't easy".

On the day the high court handed down its DOMA ruling, former President Barack Obama appeared at a press conference. And on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a constitutional guarantee all over the land.

The ruling was narrow and applied to a limited number of states.

Even after her Supreme Court victory, she continued speaking out on human rights, including immigration and transgender identity.

However, same sex couples would have to wait until 2015 for marriage equality on a nationwide federal level. "And I said, 'yes!' And she said, 'I do, too". "I didn't think it would happen again and it did". Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, whom she married in 2016, confirmed her death.

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