Edith Windsor, the same-sex marriage activist whose landmark case brought an end to the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), sadly passed away on Tuesday at the age of 88. Across the nation, her death brought about mourning from those who knew and loved her as well as many who had never even had the honor of meeting her.
In 2013, Windsor’s case was heard before the Supreme Court, and as a result, marriage equality became the law of the land. Amid the outpouring of grief after her passing, former President Barack Obama issued a moving statement reflecting on Windsor’s life.
America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right.
Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.
I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice. And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.
Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.
I thought about Edie that day. I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.
Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.
Obama was not alone. Civil rights activists and political icons from all walks of life joined in mourning Windsor’s death, including Bill Clinton and Bill DeBlasio.
In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans and their rights. May she rest in peace. https://t.co/9nNazdmnPP
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) September 12, 2017
The arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. But sometimes it needs a good kick in the ass from people like Edie Windsor.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 12, 2017
Very sad to read of Edith Windsor's passing. Our world is better for her life. Keeping her wife Judith, all her family & friends in my heart https://t.co/K3HebHZhyb
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) September 12, 2017
— LGBT Bar Assoc of NY (@lgbtbarny) September 12, 2017
Rest in peace, Edie Windsor. Thank you for paving the way. pic.twitter.com/KRLjCWdcqx
— ACLU National (@ACLU) September 12, 2017
Featured image via Wikipedia