Edith Windsor, Same-sex Marriage Advocate, Dies at 88

FILE PHOTO: Edith Windsor (C), an 83-year-old woman who says the Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gay couples in violation of the U.S. Constitution, speaks to the media during a news conference in New York, U.S. on October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Edith Windsor, a homosexual rights activist whose lawsuit prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), died Sept. 12 in New York. She was 88.

The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in U.S. v. Windsor granted states the ability to legalize same-sex marriage and paved the way for nationwide legalization of the practice two years later in Obergefell v. Hodges. An NPR obituary called Windsor, whose cause of death has not been announced, “an octogenarian rock star in the gay rights community.”

Among homosexual rights advocates to mourn her death on Twitter were Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama, who said in a statement he spoke with Windsor “a few days” before her death “to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country.”

Windsor emerged in the national spotlight after her 40-year same-sex partner Thea Spyer, who had legally married Windsor in Canada, died in 2009 and Windsor inherited her estate. Because U.S. law only exempted married heterosexual spouses from estate taxes, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in taxes, The New York Times reported.

She sued, and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately sided with her, holding by a 5-4 majority that DOMA violated “equal protection” under the Constitution by refusing to recognize same-sex marriages. The ruling granted same-sex couples tax and other benefits previously limited to marriages between a man and a woman.

Though the decision did not assert a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, evangelicals said it was “wrong” and a “subversion” of marriage.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore said at the time, “Same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'”

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Source: Baptist Press