Edith Windsor, lesbian activist who took down DOMA, dead at 88

Jenna Warner
September 15, 2017

The New York Times and the Associated Press confirmed Windsor's death with her wife and her attorney.

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

She had sued the United States government after being ordered to pay $363,053 (£224,940) in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died. The law known as DOMA, passed in 1996, barred her from receiving the federal tax benefits of marriage, no matter what NY said. She was said to have been struggling with heart issues for the past few years. Past year in an interview with the Washington Blade, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton identified Windsor as an LGBT person she sees as a role model.

"She got out of the auto 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 also know that her memory will be a blessing not only to every LGBT person on this planet, but to all who believe in the concept of b'tzelem elohim, or equal dignity for all".

Windsor knew what it had been like to be stereotyped and stigmatized, Kilmnick said. In the 1950s, at a time being gay was harshly stigmatized, she married a man and changed her last name to his, Windsor. "But sometimes it needs a good kick in the ass from people like Edie Windsor".

Born in Philadelphia in 1929 to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Windsor's life and battle for equal rights led to major victories for the LGBTI community in the United States. As she explained to OUT about their first meeting, "We made love all afternoon and went dancing all night-and that was the beginning".

That is, until Windsor fought the law that did not recognize that marriage - and won. The US supreme court dealt a final blow for marriage equality in 2015.

She was helping to create a new statewide gay rights group after Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's leading LGBT group, disbanded in 2015.

She later received a masters degree in applied mathematics from New York University.

Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called Windsor "one of this country's great civil rights pioneers".

Their trip to Toronto for a civil ceremony in May 2007, as well as their decades-long devotion, was chronicled in an award-winning documentary titled "Edie and Thea - A Very Long Engagement".

Spyer came into her life in 1963, and they became a couple two years later.

Windsor's path to gay-rights icon stretches back to 1962, when she met her wife-to-be in a Greenwich Village restaurant.

Then settled in NY, where he worked as a programmer for IBM company and where, as indicated in an interview, could be openly lesbian.

Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two.

A public memorial will be held 12:30 p.m. Friday at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan.

Other reports by Insurance News

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER