Edie Windsor, the Matriarch of Marriage Equality, Dies at 88 - Reactions
Sep 15 2017
Current and former NY elected officials mourned the death of and celebrated LGBT rights activist and pioneer Edie Windsor, whose advocacy for same-sex marriage brought about a major Supreme Court ruling.
"The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America - a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice".
Her legal action was prompted by the death a year earlier of her first spouse, Thea Spyer, who she married legally in 2007 in Canada following a four-decade-long relationship. After navigating the NY court system for years, her case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, culminating in a 5-4 decision declaring that the federal Defense of Marriage Act-the legislation blocking Ms. Windsor's tax claim-was unconstitutional. After Spyer and Windsor had dated for two years, Spyer proposed in 1967, kicking off a 40-year engagement.
"It's nearly essential that we all meet as often as we can meet: that we become more and more related to each other given these circumstances", Ms. Windsor previously said of local LGBTQ events.
On Sunday, I will have the honor of serving as grand marshal in the New York City Pride Parade.
Like Windsor said, "Don't postpone joy". Widowhood made her a gay rights pioneer. By then Edie Windsor had become a household name, appearing at rallies, marches, and speeches nationwide.
Windsor was born in Philadelphia and moved to Manhattan in the early 1950s after a brief marriage to a man. "Thea looks at her ring every day, and thinks of herself as a member of a special species that can love and couple "until death do them part'". The genesis of the lawsuit was the death in 2009 of her first wife, Thea Spyer.
But, despite the monumental victory, Windsor was realistic about how it fit into the larger fight for rights and representation for the LGBTQ community.
She later received a masters degree in applied mathematics from New York University. When the Court allowed marriage equality in 2015, Windsor was finally able to exhale, knowing that what she had begun in a NY legal street fight was now protected in MS and Alabama. "Her legacy will live on in history and be felt in the lives of our community for many years to come". Windsor requested that, in lieu of flowers, any donations in her memory be made to one of the following four LGBT organizations: The LGBT Center of NY, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth, or SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment). United States. It is considered one of the most important LGBT rights cases in US history. She became a computer programmer at IBM in 1958.
She met Spyer, her long-time partner, some years later.
Nina notes there was nowhere for them to marry at the time; it would take decades - and one "lousy prognosis" for Spyer's multiple sclerosis - before the pair finally headed to Toronto to obtain their same-sex marriage, which was also recognized by NY.