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Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer, Couple Who Took on DOMA, Honored With NYC Street Sign

Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer, Couple Who Took on DOMA, Honored With NYC Street Sign

Photos of Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor

A court case involving the couple helped bring down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Marriage equality pioneer Edie Windsor and her wife, Thea Spyer, have been honored by having an intersection in New York’s Greenwich Village named for them.

The intersection of Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North was designated “Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer Way” in a ceremony Tuesday, website 6sqft reports. Windsor and Spyer lived at that corner for 43 years. The New York City Council had approved the honorary naming last year.

Windsor and Spyer became partners in the 1960s and were finally able to marry in Canada in 2007. But the U.S. did not recognize their marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act, with the result that when Spyer died two years later, Windsor owed $363,000 in estate taxes —which she would not have owed if she had been married to a man. Windsor sued the U.S. government, and her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which struck down the main part of DOMA in 2013. The ruling paved the way to other pro-marriage equality decisions.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul praised Windsor at the ceremony, held on the day Windsor, who died in 2017, would have turned 94. “Sometimes it takes people of courage to stand up against the forces of their time, and that’s exactly what Edie did in manifestation of her love to Thea,” Hochul said, according to 6sqft.

“The legacy has been created and that legacy will continue to shine on as a reminder of what tough people — tough New Yorkers, tough women — are capable of doing,” the governor added. “So their story will live on through this unveiling.”

Windsor and Spyer were both involved in the LGBTQ+ rights movement for much of their lives. They were founding members of New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center as well as SAGE, an activist group for LGBTQ+ elders. They also were active in the LGBTQ+ synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

This isn’t the first street sign honoring Windsor. In 2018, Philadelphia unveiled a sign designating a block of South 13th Street as Edie Windsor Way. Although Windsor was a longtime New Yorker, she was a native of Philadelphia and attended the city’s Temple University.

Even after the Supreme Court decision, DOMA remained part of federal law, although unenforceable. It was finally repealed by the Respect for Marriage Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.

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