One Equal World

LGBT Heroes: Edith Windsor

Posted on: April 19, 2013

Today, there is a long list of LGBT supporters—and for that we are grateful. But some people stand apart from the crowd when it comes to what they’ve done for the LGBT community. There are a few individuals whose actions have made them into icons and beacons of hope for millions of Americans, and Edith Windsor is one of those people.

Edith Windsor, more popularly known as “Edie,” met her wife, Thea Spire, in the 1960s, when it was anything but acceptable to be gay. The two became engaged in 1967, Spyer giving Windsor a diamond circle pin to seal the deal (passing up a traditional ring for secrecy’s sake).

Flash forward forty years to 2007, when the two are still a devoted, loving, and happy couple. Spyer’s health beginning to fail, she and Windsor finally married that year using a Canadian marriage license. In 2009, Spyer finally passed away, forty-two years after the two began their committed relationship.

Edie Windsor

Edith (Edie) Windsor
lev radin / Shutterstock.com

And though New York State recognized her marriage as valid, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage regardless of the state’s laws. Spyer had left her entire estate to Windsor, her spouse, but because of DOMA was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate tax on what the government considered an inheritance.

Edith Windsor’s refusal to take such an unfair act lying down has made her into an icon of hope and justice for millions of people. “The story of Edie Windsor is an unbelievably compelling and unfair story,” said Ken Mehlman, former RNC Chair and current Head of Global Affairs for KKR.

And for those who think that same-sex marriage will re-define marriage, consider Edie’s wise words on the subject. She calls marriage a “magic word” and says, “For anybody who doesn’t understand why we want it and why we need it, it is magic.”

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