Edith Windsor, Marriage Equality Activist and LGBT Rights Pioneer, Dies at 88

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Her death was confirmed to The New York Times by her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, whom she married in 2016.

Windsor was the lead plaintiff in the 2013 U.S. supreme court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, giving gay and lesbian couples access to federal benefits and laying the foundation for the landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country in 2015. But the US did not recognize their marriage, with the result that when Spyer died two years later, Windsor owed $363,000 in estate taxes - which she would not have owed if she had been married to a man. Her longtime partner, Thea Spyer, first proposed marriage in 1967, but the two never Wednesday until 2007 in Canada, one of the first countries where same-sex marriage was legal.

The Supreme Court's Windsor decision, handed down in 2013, ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional and opened the door for residents of 13 states which recognized gay marriage to qualify for federal benefits that marriage conferred.

Gay rights pioneer Edith Windsor, whose lawsuit against the federal government helped pave the way for same-sex marriage nationwide, has died at 88.

Ms. Windsor moved to New York in the mid-1950s and earned a master's degree in applied mathematics from New York University. According to the Times, a "romance blossomed" between the women after Kasen-Windsor took Windsor out on a date, which took place at a Hanukkah party hosted by Roberta Kaplan, Windsor's lawyers in the landmark case. As she explained to OUT about their first meeting, "We made love all afternoon and went dancing all night-and that was the beginning". Windsor called them and said, "I know this is presumptuous, but, please, can I come stay with you?"

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

"She will go down in the history books as a true American hero", Kaplan said. I know that Edie's memory will always be a blessing to [my wife] Rachel, myself, and [our son] Jacob. She was 88 years old.

"In court documents, Windsor said she told Spyer, "'If it still feels this goofy joyous, I'd like us to spend the rest of our lives together.' And we did'".

A public memorial for Windsor will be held on Friday, Sept. 15 at Riverside Memorial Chapel at 12:30 p.m. "I will never forget Edith standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, describing marriage as more than just rights and benefits but also as "magic" - a powerful recognition of indescribable love".