For me, Edith Windsor is the LGBT community’s Rosa Parks, standing up for us, and for what was right, just because it was right.
Yesterday, Edith’s wife of just a year, Judith Kasen-Windsor confirmed that Edith Windsor had passed away. The two were married in 2016, just a year after marriage equality became the law of the land partly because of Edith Windsor, who sued the government in an effort to get a simple tax refund like any other spouse, and that lawsuit ended up striking down DOMA and achieving the first federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
It’s because of Edith Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, that Carlos and I were able to get married; it’s that simple. Edith stood up for an entire community when most of us weren’t standing at all, were afraid to stand, didn't stand, or thought maybe we didn't have the right to stand.
America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right.
Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.
I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love. She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years. After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two. But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed. And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts. The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice. And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.
Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.
I thought about Edie that day. I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.
Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.”
I was ... I am ... one of those and, as I said up top, in my book, she ranks up there with Rosa Parks.
She will always be a hero or mine.
RIP and thanks for making me equal.=