Edith Windsor Will Be Remembered For Taking A Stand And Winning An Important Victory In The Fight For Gay Rights

The icon passed away at age 88.

Edith Windsor, an icon in the fight for gay rights, passed away on Tuesday in Manhattan at the age of 88. Her landmark Supreme Court case in 2013 paved the way for marriage equality in the United States.

According to the New York Times, Windsor's wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, confirmed her death without specifying a cause. "I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality," Kasen-Windsor said in a statement. "Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community which she loved so much and which loved her right back."

Windsor was born Edith Schlain in Philadelphia. She received a master's degree in mathematics from New York University and went on to work for IBM. She divorced her husband Saul Windsor after less than a year, and kept her married name even as she began a decades-long engagement with her first wife Thea Spyer, whom she married in Canada in 2007 after years of activism. Spyer, who had multiple sclerosis, passed away in 2009.


Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented same-sex couples from receiving many federal benefits, Windsor was denied unlimited spousal exemption from estate taxes after Spyer's death. So she sued, and the resulting Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor, led to a 5-4 ruling to overturn Section 3 of DOMA, which didn't recognize same-sex married couples as "spouses."

Two years later, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage across the country. Then, earlier this year, the court ruled that states must allow the names of both parents in a same-sex marriage to be listed on birth certificates. Windsor, meanwhile, remained active in the LGBTQ community, attending Pride parades and supporting organizations such as the LGBT Network. She was runner-up to Pope Francis for Time's Person of the Year for 2013.

In a statement following her death, Windsor's attorney Roberta Kaplan called her client an "American hero," and said representing her "was and will always be the greatest honor of my life."

As impactful as Windsor's and other cases have been, there is still more work to do to ensure LGBTQ people in the United States and around the world receive equal rights and protection against discrimination — especially under the Trump administration. In an upcoming Supreme Court case, for instance, the Justice Department recently sided with a baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. Transgender people, meanwhile, have been threatened around the country by bathroom bills, as well as President Trump's proposed military ban

Many countries are also still lagging behind the United States and others when it comes to marriage equality. In Australia, for example, citizens have just begun voting on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry, with results being revealed in November.

Even Windsor herself, although she was "thrilled" with 2015's same-sex marriage ruling, told The New Yorker, "I think it's only the next major step."

Following her death, tributes and statements poured in from celebrities, activists, and politicians, all of whom celebrated Windsor's important role in the fight for LGBTQ rights — and, for many, their own lives — and shared their hope that she "rest in power." In his statement on her death, former President Barack Obama shared, "I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love."

See some of Twitter's heartwarming tributes to Edith Windsor below:

Cover image: lev radin / shutterstock.com


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