Edith Windsor, a gay-rights activist who championed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act passed away Tuesday. She marked the trail to the legalization of same-sex marriage in a 2013 landmark case that challenged a small portion of DOMA. Section 3 of the law stated the federal government must deny more than 1,000 laws and programs to legally married gay couples. The law defined marriage for federal purposes as a union between one man and one woman.
Windsor and her first wife Thea Clara Spyer who were married in 2007 in Canada. Spyer died in 2009 and Windsor inherited her belongings and property. DOMA’s Section 3 didn’t allow the Internal Revenue Service to recognize Windsor as a surviving spouse and she was given a tax bill of $360,000. If she been in an opposite-sex marriage, she would have not faced the tax bill.
In the wake of Windsor’s death, Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO of Win (formerly Women in Need) and the first woman and openly LGBTQ speaker of the New York City Council released the following statement:
“Edie was my close friend, supporter and a mentor. She was sweet, kind and loving to Kim and me. When New Yorkers – especially young LGBTQ New Yorkers – saw Edie on the street, they’d run up to her, thank her, hug her, sometimes with tears of gratitude and tell their stories and detail how her story touched their lives. She’s a civil rights giant who will impact hundreds of thousands of people for decades to come and will be remembered as a woman whose bravery and insistence on equality and respect changed the course of history.
“Just over four years after Edie brought down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), we are in dark times for civil rights. I hope all New Yorkers are propelled by Edie’s determination, fight and humor.”