Former President Barack Obama on
Tuesday remembered Edith Windsor, who passed in Manhattan at the age
Windsor successfully challenged the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that prohibited federal
agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian
couples. The Supreme Court's 2013 ruling paved the way for
Obergefell, which found that gay couples have a constitutional
right to marry.
Windsor, plaintiff in Supreme Court case that struck down DOMA, dies
Obama released the following statement
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
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.