The Godmother of Gay Marriage: Edie Windsor’s Passionate Life

After her partner Thea Spyer died, Edie Windsor was left with a massive estate tax bill, just because they were gay. Her victorious fight has redrawn the LGBT equality map.
Taking on the United States Supreme Court is no easy feat, yet 85-year-old Edith Windsor, who goes by Edie, did just that. She made history in 2010 after challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned the federal recognition of same-sex marriages and the benefits they were entitled to.When the statute was overturned in 2013, it was an unprecedented ruling that sent joyous shockwaves throughout the gay community and the rest of the United States. Since DOMA’s abolition, 37 states now recognize and protect same-sex marriage.I met Windsor for the first time at her apartment just off Manhattan’s Washington Square Park—the same apartment she once shared with her wife, Thea Spyer, who’s passing in 2009 forced Windsor to ignite her lawsuit against the federal government. Windsor was left with a $363,053 estate tax because their marriage was not valid in the eyes of the federal government, even though it was legal in the state of New York.

Wherever she goes, she’s usually recognized. “I get stopped on the street all the time,” Windsor told me over coffee on a frosty winter morning, “and a lot of people just wanting to say, ‘Thank you.’”

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