Edith Windsor, gay marriage pioneer in US, dies aged 88

Source:AFP Published: 2017/9/13 22:58:40

Edith Windsor, whose watershed legal case resulted in US federal recognition of same-sex married couples for the first time, died Tuesday, her lawyer said. She was 88 years old.

The gay rights champion's historic case led the US Supreme Court in 2013 to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal benefits to married gay and lesbian couples. It opened the door for a 2015 Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry nationwide.

"I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality," Windsor's wife Judith Kasen-Windsor said in a statement.

"Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back."

Windsor was hit with a $363,000 estate tax bill after the 2009 death of her decades-long partner Thea Spyer, whom she had married in Canada. Had the couple been straight, the tax bill would have been much less.

"She will go down in the history books as a true American hero," said Windsor's attorney Roberta Kaplan.

Windsor was born Edith Schlain in Philadelphia on June 20, 1929, to Jewish Russian immigrants. After a brief marriage to a man, she divorced and moved to New York, earned her ­master's degree and got a job as a computer programmer for IBM.

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