Edith Windsor, the woman of small stature but largely responsible for attaining marriage equality in the United States, has died aged 88 – but her legacy will forever live on.
In 2013, Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defence of Marriage Act, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.
This was credited with laying the groundwork for the court’s 2015 ruling in another case that legalised same-sex marriage.
Her death was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor.
“I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” she said.
“Edie was the light of my life.”
Windsor sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 ($A453,548) in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died.
The couple had been partners for 44 years and had married in Canada in 2007.
Windsor argued that the provision of the law which defined marriage as between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a tax deduction due to married couples – and was unconstitutional.
In a landmark 2013 ruling the US Supreme agreed – and that decision became the basis for a wave of further court rulings increasing the rights of same-sex couples.
In 2015, another crucial Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry.
Edith Windsor successfully challenged and defeated the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Thank you, Edie, for changing the course of history. pic.twitter.com/hDUN0Ytrhn
— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) September 13, 2017
In a statement, former president Barack Obama said he had spoken with Windsor a few days ago and told her again how important her work had been to the country.
“America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fuelled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right,” he said.
“Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.”
— ROSIE (@Rosie) September 12, 2017
Words cannot express. RIP Edie Windsor. Thank you for what you did. 🌈📜📯 pic.twitter.com/85gm2hp2su
— Rhea Butcher🏳️🌈⚾️ (@RheaButcher) September 12, 2017
Edie Windsor was a hero and her contributions to the fight for equality and acceptance will be remembered forever. https://t.co/ZlaLiKTiaJ
— GLAAD (@glaad) September 12, 2017