Another Childless Woman to Remember: Edith Windsor


I was really sad when I heard that Edith Windsor died at age 88 in September 2017. I recognized her name immediately. She's the woman behind the landmark case that led the U.S. Supreme Court to grant same-sex married couples federal recognition and access to 1,138 federal benefits that were previously denied.

Social Security. Health and veterans' benefits. Welfare assistance to poor and elderly. Immigration and bankruptcy protections. So many things that straight couples take for granted became available to every couple after the Court's 2013 decision.

Except, Edith married banking exec Judith Kasen in 2016. Not that I run the Universe, but I wish they had more time to enjoy being legally married in the United States of America.. Here's what I didn't know about Edith until I read her obit in The NY Times:

"Ms. Windsor told The New Yorker that being childless was the hardest part of her lesbian life."

Wow.

Google helped me find the 2013 New Yorker interview titled "The Perfect Wife", whereEdith explained that during a relationship lasting more than 40 years with psychologist Thea Spyer, she had wanted children “desperately" and that it was "the hardest thing about letting myself be gay."

At that time, "homosexual" and "parent" did not go together. And, psychologists - even the gay ones like Edith's partner - were definitively taught that homosexuality is a mental illness.

When I think of the many, many challenges facing lesbians in this world, the idea that childlessness would be the worst never occurred to me. Not once.

Psychologist Thea Spyer (below, left) was obviously the love of Edith's life, and they were legally married in Canada in 2007. Watch a 2009 documentary about their relationship here.

But, Thea died just two years after the wedding, leaving Edith her estate. Problem: the IRS refused to grant Edith spousal exemptions from federal estate taxes.

Yes. Everything legal for gays in America began to change because grief-stricken Edith couldn't keep her late wife's estate.

For her efforts to secure equal justice for every citizen, Edith Windsor accepted the congratulations of President Barack Obama and was a runner-up to Pope Francis for Time magazine’s 2013 person of the year.

Never underestimate the legacy of a childless woman. And never, EVER think that we don't leave one behind when we go. You don't have to face the Supreme Court. Do you.

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