Woman Who Paved Way for Gay Marriage Dies at 88


Celebrities, politicians and LGBTQ rights advocates alike offered heartfelt words in honor of Edith "Edie" Windsor, who died Tuesday at the age of 88.

Her first date with her second wife, Kasen-Windsor, whom she married past year, was at a Hannukah party.

The 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key provision of DOMA is also credited with providing the legal framework for 2015's landmark ruling in Obergefell, which found that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

On a practical level, because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, I was taxed $363,000 in federal estate tax that I would not have had to pay if I had been married to a man named Theo instead of a woman named Thea. The law known as DOMA, passed in 1996, barred her from receiving the federal tax benefits of marriage, no matter what NY said. Had Windsor's marriage to Spyer been legally recognized, she would have qualified for an unlimited spousal deduction.

Windsor later married Windsor after attaining a bachelors degree from Temple in 1950 but divorced after less than a year.

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"She got out of the vehicle and got down on her knees and said, 'Edie Windsor, will you marry me?' And this pin appeared", Windsor recalled in an interview with NPR's Nina Totenberg in 2013. I know that Edie's memory will always be a blessing to [my wife] Rachel, myself, and [our son] Jacob.

Like Windsor said, "Don't postpone joy". She also began volunteering with gay rights organizations; for starters, she computerized all their mailing lists.

"It was a love affair that just kept on and on and on", Windsor recalled to the Guardian US in 2013.

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

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: 'Edie Windsor is a hero and civil rights icon who pushed our country closer to the promise of a more ideal union.

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Former US president Barack Obama was among her admirers, and spoke with Windsor a few days ago, shortly before her death, "to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love".

Windsor claimed that DOMA violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by singling out same-sex marriage partners. "Her legacy will live on in history and be felt in the lives of our community for many years to come". Spyer was a psychologist with a large NY practice.

Windsor and Spyer's relationship was the subject of a touching 2009 documentary, Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement, that has won numerous awards. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and worked for IBM from 1958.

Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, described her as "the light for the LGBTQ community".

Windsor became a full-time carer eventually after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977.

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A public memorial will be held September 15 at at Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York City.