LGBTQ rights pioneer Edith Windsor dies: Celebrities react

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"Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America", former President Barack Obama said in a statement, calling her one of the "quiet heroes" whose efforts fueled the cause of equality.

"I think of the people in this room as sort of the "mainstream gays" now, but there are tons of gays who are hidden still. and we have to be responsible for them and we have to help make everything possible for them", she said. If not for her case, which led the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, it's likely that marriage equality would not be a nationwide reality today. And she said, "Oh, it was nothing, it had no effect on me at all".

Kaplan said the ACLU anxious that Windsor's image as a "privileged rich lady" was "not a story that's going to move people". The president hailed "the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up" for LGBT rights.

Former first lady Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter: "Edie Windsor showed the world that love can be a powerful force for change. She will be greatly missed".

Spyer came into her life in 1963, and they became a couple two years later.

They later married in Canada after realizing that they might not live long enough to see NY legalize same-sex marriage.

"She will go down in the history books as a true American hero", Kaplan said. But federal law didn't recognize a marriage like theirs as valid - which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed.

Known as 'Edie, ' Windsor had sued the federal government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in estate duties after the death of her previous wife, Thea Spyer, in 2009. In a 5-4 decision, the 2013 case ruled in Windsor's favor and overturned DOMA.

Mrs Windsor's legal fight began when her...

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Edie passed away in NY.

Windsor, born to an immigrant Jewish family from Philadelphia in 1929, was an unlikely civil rights icon; glamorous, wealthy and successful.

"It's an accident of history that put me here", Windsor said. Many of us feel the personal loss of a tremendous friend and mentor, whom we will never forget. "He married the right girl and had a lovely life".

"Marriage" is a magic word", according to the New Yorker.

Just two years later, Spyer died.

Concerned that an engagement ring would bring unwanted attention to Windsor's sexual orientation, Spyer gave her a diamond brooch instead.

Nina notes there was nowhere for them to marry at the time; it would take decades - and one "lousy prognosis" for Spyer's multiple sclerosis - before the pair finally headed to Toronto to obtain their same-sex marriage, which was also recognized by NY.

TOTENBERG: Spyer died 21 months later. Windsor requested that, in lieu of flowers, any donations in her memory be made to one of the following four LGBT organizations: The LGBT Center of NY, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth, or SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment).

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