OUT100's Edith Windsor has passed away today at the age of 88. The gay-rights pioneer helped usher in same-sex marriage in America thanks to a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and granted married same-sex couples federal recognition for the first time.
Over four decades after uprisings at Stonewall Inn, Compton’s Cafeteria and Cooper’s Donuts started the modern LGBTQ rights movement, Windsor became a major advocate for marriage equality. While her case only applied to 13 states and the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriages were already legal, a Supreme Court decision two years later in 2015 declared same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry anywhere in the nation.
Before Edith's lifelong partner, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2009, the pair were inseperable. As she explained to OUT about their first meeting, "We made love all afternoon and went dancing all night—and that was the beginning." From there, the two dated for 42 years before marrying in Canada in 2007. After Spyer passed, the United States government saddled her with outrageous estate taxes she was forced to pay because her marriage wasn’t recognized by law.
What began as a fight for a simple tax refund quickly became a testament to how far the nation had come in terms of support for same-sex marriage. A decade after the 2003 Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas decriminalized gay sex in the United States, Windsor became one face of a revolutionary push for equality for the LGBTQ community.
Windsor is survived by her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, who she married in 2016. As we mourn this monumental loss, we leave you with the words of Windsor on the importance of same-sex marriage: “Married is a magic word and it is magic throughout the world. It has to do with our dignity as human beings, to be who we are openly.”