Helped end ban on gay mar­riage with land­mark case

Chicago Sun-Times - - RE­MEM­BER­ING -

NEW YORK — Edith Wind­sor, a widow who brought a land­mark Supreme Court case that struck down parts of a fed­eral anti- gay mar­riage law and paved a path to­ward le­gal­iz­ing same- sex nup­tials na­tion­wide, died Tues­day. She was 88.

Wind­sor died in New York, said her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan. The cause of death wasn’t given, but Wind­sor had strug­gled with heart is­sues for years.

“The world lost a tiny but tough- as­nails fighter for free­dom, jus­tice and equal­ity,” said her cur­rent spouse, Ju­dith Kasen- Wind­sor. They mar­ried last year.

Wind­sor be­came a gay rights pioneer af­ter her first spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. The women had mar­ried legally in Canada in 2007 af­ter spend­ing more than 40 years to­gether.

At 81, Wind­sor sued the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, say­ing its def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage as a re­la­tion­ship be­tween a man and a woman pre­vented her from get­ting a mar­i­tal de­duc­tion on Spyer’s es­tate. That meant she faced a huge tax bill that het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples would not have.

“She re­fused to ac­cept the in­jus­tice lev­eled at the love of her life,” U. S. House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a state­ment Tues­day.

The U. S. Supreme Court ruled 5- 4 in June 2013 that the pro­vi­sion in the fed­eral De­fense of Mar­riage Act was un­con­sti­tu­tional, and that legally mar­ried same- sex cou­ples are en­ti­tled to the same fed­eral ben­e­fits that het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples re­ceive.

The opin­ion gave the na­tion’s legally mar­ried gay cou­ples equal fed­eral foot­ing with all other mar­ried Amer­i­cans and marked a key mo­ment of en­cour­age­ment for gay mar­riage sup­port­ers con­fronting the na­tion­wide patch­work of laws that, at the time, out­lawed such unions in roughly three dozen states.

Edith Wind­sor

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