Edith Windsor, SCOTUS Litigant And Marriage Equality Icon, Dies At 88

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Former US President Barack Obama led tributes to gay rights campaigner Edith Windsor following her death on Tuesday.

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

When Windsor's lifelong partner died in 2009, the IRS billed her for more than $300,000 in estate taxes she would not have owed had the government recognized their marriage.

Windsor had argued that the act was unconstitutional, as it defined marriage as between a man and a woman, preventing married same-sex couples receiving tax deductions.

Last year, Windsor married her current spouse, Judith Kasen-Windsor, a banker.

In a statement from Windsor's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, Kaplan said representing Windsor "was and will always be the greatest honor of my life".

Windsor later married Windsor after attaining a bachelors degree from Temple in 1950 but divorced after less than a year. In a 2013 interview with The New Yorker, she explained, "The minute I met Edie and heard the story and saw, frankly, how attractive she was and how articulate she was, I was, like, This is it: it couldn't have been a better case".

Kaplan said the ACLU anxious that Windsor's image as a "privileged rich lady" was "not a story that's going to move people".

"She had a sense of humor and a poise about her that made everybody feel very welcome and comfortable", DiNapoli said.

Lesbian gay bisexual and transgender rights activist Edith “Edie” Windsor
Lesbian gay bisexual and transgender rights activist Edith “Edie” Windsor

"It was a love affair that just kept on and on and on", Windsor recalled to the Guardian US in 2013.

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. "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'".

After the ruling in Windsor's case, same-sex marriage was still left illegal in 37 states. "One simply can not write the history of the gay rights movement without reserving enormous credit and gratitude for Edie Windsor".

In one of its most significant LGBT-related rulings ever, the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down DOMA. By the time we got to the destination, she got down on one knee with the brooch, and asked me, "Edie Windsor, would you marry me?" and I said, "Yes, yes, yes", and she was furious because I wouldn't let her finish the sentence.

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

But the couple could not marry in NY during Spyer's lifetime.

"She touched countless lives, and we at GLAAD are deeply saddened by her passing, but her kindness, compassion, and legacy will endure".

Windsor became a full-time carer eventually after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. They married in Canada in 2007.

According to the Advocate, a public memorial will be held September 15 in NY.

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