Edith Windsor, 1929-2017
September 12, 2017 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Edith Windsor, the gay-rights activist whose landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, has died. Death is sad, but this sentence, near the top of the Time obituary, made me happy: Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure (62 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:32 PM on September 12


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posted by praemunire at 4:41 PM on September 12


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posted by pointystick at 4:41 PM on September 12


She made this country great.
posted by lydhre at 4:44 PM on September 12 [14 favorites]


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posted by Proofs and Refutations at 4:48 PM on September 12


What a life! Read this New Yorker profile from four years ago, it will fill your heart with joy.

...And then the words “DOMA is unconstitutional” flashed on the computer screen.

There was silence. Somebody screamed. Rachel Lavine started sobbing. “Everything is going to be different for Jacob,” she said, of their son. Then she was hugging Kaplan and passing her the phone. “Hi, Mom,” Kaplan said. “Total victory—total! It couldn’t be better.”

Windsor was not yelling or crying. “I want to go to Stonewall right now,” she said.

Moraweck wiped tears from her face and said, “Even though Edie’s the survivor, you feel like Thea’s still present.”

“Crybaby,” Windsor said, and patted her on the shoulder. Then someone called for her on the landline, and Windsor said into the receiver, “Who am I talking to? Oh, Barack Obama?” The President was calling from Air Force One, on his way to Africa. “I want to thank you,” she told him. “I think your coming out for us made such a difference throughout the country. Hello?” She looked at the dozen people staring at her in silence. “I think I just hung up on the President.” He called back and told her how moved he’d been by her story.

Paul, Weiss had hired a black S.U.V., and Windsor and Kaplan took a triumphal lap of Manhattan. Whenever they stopped, people swarmed the car, burst into tears, and said, “Thank you, Edie!” They wanted to hug her, take her picture, touch her diamond engagement pin. There was a press conference at the L.G.B.T. Community Center, on West Thirteenth Street, at which Kaplan compared Windsor to “Susan B. Anthony, or Rosa Parks, or Harvey Milk before her,” and James Esseks introduced her as the woman who “has made the country more free and more fair and more equal today. In fact, she has made it more American.” Windsor spoke about her years at I.B.M. “I lied all the time,” she said. “Internalized homophobia is a bitch!”

Finally, Windsor was taken where she really wanted to go: Stonewall. When she got out of the car, at Christopher Street, there were hundreds of people chanting her name. Windsor got up on the podium, in her shiny purple shirt, with the pin on her lapel, and, as she looked at the crowd, she said, “Now’s the part when I try not to cry.”

posted by roger ackroyd at 4:50 PM on September 12 [54 favorites]


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posted by Room 641-A at 4:57 PM on September 12


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posted by kyrademon at 5:08 PM on September 12


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posted by arkady at 5:08 PM on September 12


Thank you.

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posted by DingoMutt at 5:09 PM on September 12


Heros live forever, and Edith Windsor was truly heroic.

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posted by easily confused at 5:15 PM on September 12


Thank you Ms. Windsor.

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posted by 4rtemis at 5:28 PM on September 12


Thank you.

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posted by schmod at 5:39 PM on September 12


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posted by rtha at 6:07 PM on September 12


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posted by tonycpsu at 6:15 PM on September 12


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posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:27 PM on September 12


We can all but hope to leave the world better for our having been here. Well done, Ms. Windsor.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:37 PM on September 12


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posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:42 PM on September 12


My son is getting married later this year to his boyfriend. I couldn't be happier.

We were told by many very serious pundits and thought leaders that gay marriage would lead to the breakdown of civil society and the destruction and dissolution of America. Does anyone know when that is supposed to happen ? There's no point in my paying my mortgage if they can't foreclose before everything falls apart.

A . is far too small for Ms. Windsor.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:01 PM on September 12 [15 favorites]


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posted by bilabial at 8:06 PM on September 12


🏳️‍🌈 .
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:19 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 9:24 PM on September 12


Ms. Windsor held a masters degree in mathematics and went to work at IBM in 1958, working on UNIVAC and the fledgling field of systems architecture. She was promoted to Senior Systems Programmer in 1968, at a time when women held few high level technical roles at IBM. Her career at IBM spanned three decades, from colossal mainframes to the advent of the desktop PC.

She was a fierce and proud activist. She was a loving wife. She was brave and badass enough to fight a landmark legal battle. But let us not forget she was also a brilliant and accomplished pioneer in the tech sector, in a field where women are, even today, profoundly underrepresented and discriminated against. Her website features this charming keynote interview from the Lesbians Who Tech conference, which also annually presents scholarships named in her honor.
posted by anastasiav at 9:48 PM on September 12 [20 favorites]


I think a lot about how I got where I am: Half-brown lesbian, raised by a single mom, on and off food stamps and welfare throughout childhood, now living in one of the most expensive cities in North America, in flat I own with...my same-sex spouse.

I got here because of people like Edie - people who pushed and never took no for an answer, who insisted that their lives were important. Who persisted. I stand on their shoulders, they have lifted me up, and I will never not be grateful.
posted by rtha at 9:51 PM on September 12 [26 favorites]


My wife and I thank you, Edie.
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posted by ikahime at 10:22 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


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posted by Pendragon at 12:33 AM on September 13


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posted by fraula at 2:44 AM on September 13


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My uncle is married to an American. They got an Icelandic civil partnership in 2002, which gave my uncle's husband residency rights in Iceland, but not vice versa. It wasn't until after Edith Windsor's legal victory that they could finally move together to the US if they wanted to. By then they'd settled into their life in Reykjavík, but they did go to the US to have a wedding again there, now that they could. Actually it was their third wedding because in the meantime equal marriage became law in Iceland. I'm very happy that now they can choose where to live on an equal basis, but I'm also happy they're still in Iceland. Edith Windsor was a true hero of civil rights.
posted by Kattullus at 2:50 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


The Wedding Announcement from 2017, when Ms. Windsor married Ms. Kasen, is lovely. I love that her second wife is scandalously younger (although at 51, hardly robbing the cradle).
But if Ms. Windsor sounded feisty discussing this, she nevertheless is feeling mostly gratitude these days. “I was empty and then this woman walked into my life,” she said. “I didn’t think it would happen again and it did. She is it.”
I am grateful to Ms. Windsor and all the other people who have fought so hard for my civil rights.
posted by Nelson at 2:59 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


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posted by n. moon at 5:11 AM on September 13


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Thank you, Edie. I think of you fondly when I am doing my federal taxes jointly as a queer woman married to another woman thanks to (so far) the only court tax law ruling that made me sniffly with joy.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:46 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 7:41 AM on September 13


I have really mixed feelings about marriage as a goal because fuck assimilation, but all the same - rest in power, Edie Windsor. You have made a substantial difference for lots of people I care deeply about.

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posted by the sobsister at 9:51 AM on September 13


Rhea Butcher: Edie Windsor Gave Me My Life
posted by gladly at 9:54 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


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posted by floweringjudas at 11:29 AM on September 13


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posted by spinifex23 at 12:10 PM on September 13


🏳️‍🌈
💍
👑
posted by anem0ne at 4:49 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


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posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:10 PM on September 13


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posted by BibiRose at 9:14 PM on September 13


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My husband and I had to wait 20 years to get married, you are a big part in the feeling of security we now enjoy. Thank you dear lady.
posted by nenequesadilla at 7:17 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


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