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

Ms Windsor at the New York Gay Pride Parade in 2013

With the help of attorney Roberta Kaplan and the ACLU's National LGBT Project, Windsor filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY to challenge DOMA's treatment of her following the death of her first spouse, Thea Spyer.

Edith Windsor helped change all that, for me and for millions of others.

During that period she met Thea Spyer, a female psychologist who would become her lifelong companion.

In 2007, Windsor, who went by Edie, married her partner of 40 years, Dr. Thea Spyer in Canada.

Last year, Windsor married her current spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, a banker. Future generations will learn how she faced down discrimination with courage and defiance, and boldly challenged the United States government to treat her marriage to Thea Spyer equally under the law - as our Constitution guarantees'. It wasn't fair, and Windsor wasn't about to go down without a fight.

Windsor had argued that the act was unconstitutional, as it defined marriage as between a man and a woman, preventing married same-sex couples receiving tax deductions. That Supreme Court ruling invalidating DOMA opened the door for another lawsuit in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) to federally recognize same-sex marriages across the country.

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When numerous lower courts ruled in favor of marriage equality after June 2013, they cited Windsor's case as precedent. Her death sparked a legal battle between Windsor and the USA government which ultimately cemented her status as a pioneer for civil rights.

Windsor had said she initally thought she was fighting a tax case, not an equal rights battle, when she sued the federal government in 2010 over the estate taxes. "If you have to outlive a great love, I can't think of a better way to do it than being everybody's hero", Windsor told Ariel Levy in 2013. "And she said, 'Then there's nothing to hold you there.' That was all. I guess I am an icon, it turns out". Windsor requested that, in lieu of flowers, any donations in her memory be made to one of the following four LGBT organizations: The LGBT Center of NY, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth, or SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment). And she belonged to the now-dissolved East End Gay Organization.

Edith Windsor was born in 1929, shortly before her parents lost their home and business in the Depression. Windsor and Spyer were among the first to register for New York City's domestic partnership registry, which extended certain benefits to same-sex couples. They divorced less than a year later.

OUT100's Edith Windsor has passed away today at the age of 88.

Former President Barack Obama also offered his condolences, and said he had a conversation with her a few days ago, in which he told her "one more time what a difference she made to this country we love".

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