LGBTQ icon Edith "Edie" Windsor died yesterday at 88 years of age, according to her lawyer. Windsor was the lead plaintiff in the landmark 2013 United States Supreme Court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. The New York Times first broke the news.
Windsor was a hero for her unceasing fight for marriage equality. Many credit her case as the first (and perhaps biggest) step toward a ruling two years later that officially opened the door for legalizing same-sex marriage. Executive director of the ACLU Anthony Romero said that with Windor's death, "we lost one of this country's great civil rights pioneers."
"The wheels of progress turn forward because of people like Edie, who are willing to stand up in the face of injustice," he added in a statment. "One simply cannot write the history of the gay rights movement without reserving immense credit and gratitude for Edie Windsor."
A native New Yorker, Windsor married her long-time love Thea Clara Spyer in 2007 after some 40-odd years together, according to CNN. Spyer died in 2009, leaving her estate to Windsor. When, under DOMA, Windsor was unable to claim the federal estate tax exemption that heterosexual couples are able to obtain after a spouse passes, she was inspired to take legal action, saying DOMA violated equal protection under the law. Windsor often said she fought the legal battle in honor of Spyer.
At the time of the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the liberal justices and wrote the 5-4 opinion striking down DOMA, arguing that it placed "same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage." Kennedy also said that the law "demeans" same-sex couples "whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects." He added, "Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways."
After the news of Windsor's death was announced yesterday afternoon, people took to Twitter to remember her and honor her legacy as an LGBTQ icon.
Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, shared his condolences: