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Edith Schlain Windsor

Edie Windsor struck a historic blow for gay rights in 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in United States v. Windsor, granting same sex couples recognition by the federal government. Windsor graduated from Temple University in 1950 and earned a master’s degree in mathematics from NYU in 1957. She worked for IBM for 16 years, achieving the rank of Senior Systems Programmer, and was later honored by the National Computing Conference in 1987 as a pioneer in operating systems. In 1975 she took early retirement to focus on LGBT activism, volunteering for the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the LGBT Community Center, and Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE), among many others. She began her relationship with psychologist Thea Spyer in 1965 and tended Spyer after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1977. The couple registered for a domestic partnership in New York City in 1993, the first day it was available, and married in Canada in 2007. However, after Spyer’s death in 2009, the IRS refused to recognize the marriage and insisted Windsor pay estate taxes as a beneficiary of Spyer’s will as though she were not a widow. However, in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), by not recognizing her marriage, had violated Windsor’s Fifth Amendment rights to both liberty and property and was therefore unconstitutional.

Edie Windsor
Full image
Edie Windsor at a Pride parade in Washington DC in 2017. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Date of Birth
June 20, 1929
Place of Birth
Philadephia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death
September 12, 2017

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Edie Windsor." (Viewed on December 18, 2018) <>.


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