Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in
the Supreme Court case that struck down same-sex marriage bans, on
Wednesday remembered Edith Windsor, who passed in Manhattan at the
age of 88.
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
In a The Washington Post op-ed,
Obergefell remembered meeting Windsor for the first time.
“I’ll never forget the day I met
Edie Windsor. I was at an event in the ACLU offices in New York. We
were introduced in the middle of a crowded room, and it was as if
everyone else – everything else, really – ceased to exist,” he
wrote. “I suddenly found myself in the orbit of this mesmerizing
woman. We chatted about our experiences in the landmark legal cases
that ultimately led to marriage equality in the United States. But we
talked more about Thea and John, our late spouses.”
“We both began to cry, and I remember
being struck by how present Edie was, how she made me feel as if I
were the only other person in that room. In the two years after we
met, however, I saw again and again that this was just Edie’s way.
Whether you were an old friend with many shared memories or a
stranger, Edie made you feel known.”
He added that Windsor deserved to be
labeled a hero.
“Her successful career in the
male-dominated world of technology and her efforts to inspire and
support women in that industry are reasons enough to admire her. But
that isn’t why so many of us consider Edie our hero. She became our
hero because of her courage in fighting to have her lawful marriage
to the person she loved treated as equal to opposite-sex marriages,
even in a time of great personal loss. Edie is our hero because she
moved the LGBT community a giant step closer to full equality as
“It isn't often that a hero becomes a
friend, and I'm grateful to have known and loved Edie,” he added.