Beloved Gay Rights Activist and East Ender Edie Windsor Dies at 88

Edie Windsor
Edie Windsor. Photo: Oliver Peterson

Gay rights activist and East Ender Edith “Edie” Windsor died Tuesday, September 12. Windsor is best known for the landmark Supreme Court case United States v. Windosr that dismantled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, granting same-sex couples the right to marry on a Federal level for the first time.

Windsor held a master’s degree in mathematics and was a senior systems programmer at IBM. She and her late partner Thea Spyer were together nearly 44 years. After Spyer’s death, DOMA prevented Windsor from claiming federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. Her long-running lawsuit went on to take down DOMA in 2013. Windsor was also involved with the Long Island LGBT Center, as well as SAGE – Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders.

Earlier this year, outreach organization Lesbians Who Tech announced the Edie Windsor Scholarship, which covers half the tuition costs for LGBT people looking to learn to code and program.

Behind the Hedges recently spoke with Windsor about her life in the Hamptons and her accomplishments as an activist. When asked what had changed in the Hamptons during the time she lived in the area, Windsor said, “For LGBT persons like me, indeed fewer gay bars and considerably more LGBT events and hence so many more differences in how we live and meet each other and so many circumstances which bring us together as a community. Which is not to imply that I don’t miss line dancing at the Millstone, and all of the wonderful dance places that followed it.”

Windsor is survived by wife Judith Kasen-Windsor. She was 88.

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