Gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose landmark Supreme Court case led the US Supreme Court to grant same-sex married couples both federal recognition and a host of federal benefits previously available only to married heterosexuals, died Tuesday in Manhattan at age 88, writes The New York Times.
Her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor, who Windsor married in 2016, confirmed Windsor's death at a Manhattan hospital.
In what is generally regarded as the second most important Supreme Court ruling in America's fight for and against same-sex marriage rights, "the Windsor decision, handed down in 2013, was limited to 13 states and the District of Columbia. But in a more expansive ruling in 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges and three related cases, the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry anywhere in the nation, with all the protections and privileges of heterosexual couples. Its historic significance was likened to that of Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which decriminalized gay sex in the United States."
Windsor herself had originally gone to court seeking a tax refund. Because of the scope of federal influence, the stakes were far higher in a Supreme Court decision that impacted tax advantages available to married heterosexuals, "including Social Security, health care and veterans’ benefits; protection in immigration and bankruptcy cases; and keeping a home after a spouse had died."