PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Edith Windsor, a Philadelphia native and gay rights activist whose lawsuit clear the way for same-sex marriage, passed away on Tuesday, but her legacy will live on for years to come.
Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Windsor was a trailblazer. She graduated from Temple University in 1950, got a masters degree from NYU years later and broke barriers as a programmer at IBM. Although she initially married a man, they divorced a year later.
“Edie was clearly a strong and principled woman,” said Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum.
Lazin says Windsor married her longtime partner Thea Spyer in Canada in 2007 after 40 years together. Spyer was ill and eventually died. Because the U.S. did not legally recognize their marriage, Windsor was taxed $300,000 to inherit her wife’s estate. So she sued, attacking the Defense of Marriage Act; she took it to the U.S. Supreme Court and won in 2013, opening the door to marriage equality.
“Two years later the Supreme Court declared that any prohibition on marriage equality violated constitutional protection,” Lazin said.
Windsor died at 88 years old in New York.