The lesbian pioneer's death was confirmed by her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, according to the New York Times, although the cause is not known. Windsor challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibited the federal government from recognizing the couple's marriage, after she received a $363,000 estate tax bill following Spyer's death. The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2014.
In 2013, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in United States v. Windsor that the federal government can not deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples, striking down several federal provisions under DOMA in the process. DOMA, which banned all federal recognition of same sex marriage, barred her from receiving those benefits.
Spyer proposed with a diamond brooch, in order for the couple to keep their relationship a secret. The ruling was a major victory for LGBTQ rights and helped pave the way for a later Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. She was 88 years old.
"She will go down in the history books as a true American hero", said Roberta ("Robbie") Kaplan, Edie Windsor's attorney.
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Born in 1929 to Jewish Parents, Windsor was the youngest of three, and was born Edith Schlain.
"Representing Edie Windsor was and will always be the greatest honor of my life", said Kaplan.
"I learned about her passing while a signed copy of her [Supreme Court] decision hangs above my desk", Jonathan Lovitz, who is marrying his same-sex partner next month, told NBC News.
Windsor had filed her lawsuit with a view to getting a tax refund, but the lawsuit went much further than that. She was the grand marshal of the New York City Pride Parade that year and, per the Times, a runner-up alongside Pope Francis for Time magazine's Person of the Year.
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Spyer came into her life in 1963, and they became a couple two years later. Windsor, who held a master's degree in mathematics, rose to the top ranks of IBM.
With Spyer's health continuing to deteriorate, the two women traveled to Toronto with friends in May 2007 to marry under Canada's more-permissive laws.
"I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality", Kasen-Windsor said.
The couple had met at a gay rights event and began dating in 2015 and lived together in Manhattan. "I didn't think it would happen again and it did".
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