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.
Edith Windsor's landmark Supreme Court case required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in 2013 https://t.co/G38W9Gw6Th
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 12, 2017
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:
In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans and their rights. May she rest in peace. https://t.co/9nNazdmnPP
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) September 12, 2017
As did the president of Planned Parenthood:
She blazed a trail. May she rest in power. https://t.co/Cx52gaN2NY
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) September 12, 2017
And a whole host of others who support the fight for LGBTQ rights:
Thinking about Edith Windsor and rereading my favorite lede of all time: Ariel Levy's opening to "the perfect wife" https://t.co/LFtL9CRcUe pic.twitter.com/Ckk5GeUKIo
— Julia Carpenter (@juliaccarpenter) September 12, 2017
Edith Windsor will be remembered as a great American civil rights hero. #ShePersisted & showed the world that #LoveIsLove. Rest in Power. pic.twitter.com/Anhfps4LQ7
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) September 12, 2017
Heartbroken to hear about the death of American hero Edith Windsor. Her landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. pic.twitter.com/RloBBqqpzo
— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) September 12, 2017
We drink deeply from wells of freedom & equality we did not dig. Thank you Edith Windsor for showing our country #LoveisLove. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/Tysc2jHKI4
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBookerOffice) September 12, 2017
As a leader & icon in the fight for marriage equality, Edith Windsor became a hero to millions. Thank you, Edie, for inspiring a generation. pic.twitter.com/VrPXxHquiw
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) September 12, 2017
Saddened by loss of #EdithWindsor, inspiring #LGBT civil rights pioneer who defeated Defense of Marriage Act & championed marriage equality
— Niki Tsongas (@nikiinthehouse) September 13, 2017
“Married is a magic word. It has to do with our dignity as human beings, to be who we are openly" - Edith Windsor https://t.co/8zugRNm4LZ
— SPLC (@splcenter) September 13, 2017
Obama statement on the passing of Edith Windsor pic.twitter.com/Avj9vQqhtz
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) September 12, 2017
"If you really care about the quality of somebody's life as much as you care about your own, you have it made." — Edith Windsor #RIP pic.twitter.com/BoW4TqMIaG
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) September 12, 2017
this community owes so much to you. Rest in power Edith Windsor. your bravery & battle for universal love will be remembered forever. pic.twitter.com/oOBpGncuvJ
— Neg. (@_Negarrr_) September 12, 2017
Image via Getty