Today would have been marriage equality pioneer Edie Windsor’s 89th birthday — and it’s Edie Windsor Day in New York State, as proclaimed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Edie was an iconic New Yorker who shaped history and taught us that love always wins,” Cuomo said in a press release. “Proclaiming her birthday as Edie Windsor Day is a fitting way to salute a true New York hero whose strength, perseverance, and conviction in the face of adversity continues to inspire all of us.”
Windsor, who died last September, successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, which kept the federal government from recognizing her marriage to Thea Spyer. She and Spyer became partners in the 1960s and finally were able to marry in Canada in 2007. But when Spyer died two years later, Windsor owed $363,000 in estate taxes — which she would not have owed if the U.S. government had recognized her marriage.
Represented by attorney Roberta Kaplan, Windsor sued the government and fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2013 struck down the portion of DOMA that banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages. That paved the way for court decisions that brought marriage equality to more states and finally the 2015 Supreme Court decision for national marriage equality. Windsor becamea hero to LGBT people everywhere and was nicknamed the “mother of marriage equality.” She remarried in 2016, to Judith Kasen-Windsor.
Read the proclamation below.
Whereas, all New Yorkers are proud to join in honoring the life and legacy of Edie Windsor, a pioneer and icon in the LGBTQ movement who inspired New Yorkers and people around the world through her courage, leadership, and tireless commitment to ensuring equality and justice; and
Whereas, throughout her extraordinary life, Edie broke down barriers - in her professional career working with early mainframe computers, having achieved the highest technical position of Senior Systems Programmer at IBM and, through her personal drive as a powerful and fearless voice for the LGBTQ community in New York and across the nation; and
Whereas, her landmark victory in United States v. Windsor marked a watershed in the movement to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples and paved the way for nationwide marriage equality; and
Whereas, Edie's strength, perseverance, and conviction in the face of adversity has made her a hero to all New Yorkers and an invaluable inspiration to countless others in the fight for equality; and
Whereas, June 20, 2018 marks what would have been Edie's 89th birthday, and all New Yorkers are proud to join in honoring and remembering Edie's extraordinary life, her legacy of groundbreaking leadership, and her lasting contributions to equality everywhere;
Now, Therefore, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby proclaim June 20, 2018 as Edie Windsor Day in the Empire State in honor of her legacy of groundbreaking achievements and indelible contributions to our great state and nation.