LGBT Trailblazer Edith Windsor Dies At 88

Emmett Rice
September 15, 2017

Gay rights activist Edith Windsor died in NY on Tuesday, her lawyer Roberta Kaplan said. But in 2015, the Supreme Court struck down some 37 state marriage bans, giving same-sex couples the right to marry from coast to coast.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said, "Today, we lost one of this country's great civil rights pioneers, Edie Windsor".

"Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America", Obama said. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. It's now considered the second most important Supreme Court case for LGBTI rights, following 2015's ruling legalizing marriage equality. "And she said, 'Then there's nothing to hold you there.' That was all". Windsor, an enthusiastic supporter of Clinton in her bid for the White House, said she was "so honored" the candidate chose her as a role model. "Whehter you knew her really well or you just knew her from meeting her a couple of times, you felt like she was a great friend to you".

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD released the following statement: 'Edie Windsor is a legend who changed the course of history for the better. While everyone else went out dancing, she waited up all night for Spyer to arrive-she finally showed up the next afternoon. But federal law didn't recognize a marriage like theirs as valid - which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. In this exclusive audio chat Windsor insisted that the world stop using the term "same-sex marriage" & wouldn't you know all the mainstream media is violating that request in her passing. In a 5-4 decision, the 2013 case ruled in Windsor's favor and overturned DOMA. She began dating her first wife, Thea Spyer, a pyschologist, in 1965, when they were living in Greenwich Village and often vacationed on the South Fork.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo saw her as an "iconic New Yorker".

Born Edith Schlain in Philadelphia on June 20, 1929, Ms. Windsor was the youngest of three children of James and Celia Schlain, Jewish immigrants from Russian Federation whose candy store and house were quarantined and subsequently foreclosed when Edith and a brother contracted polio during the Great Depression. "Edie was the light of my life", said Kasen-Windsor, who married Windsor past year.

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In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a year later, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Windsor was "such a well-chosen plaintiff".

"It's an accident of history that put me here", Windsor said. "He married the right girl and had a lovely life". The marriage was over within a year, and Windsor moved to NY and eventually became immersed in the gay community.

She had kept her sexual orientation a secret from colleagues for years and met Spyer in 1963 at a restaurant.

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".

But she was wary to reveal her sexuality to co-workers and it was not until 1967, when Ms. Spyer proposed to Ms. Windsor, that she became publicly open.

Spyer's death in 2009 set off a controversy which reached the Supreme Court in 2013.

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