The Life and Legacy of Edie Windsor
On Monday, June 20, 2022, on what would have been her 93rd birthday, we honored and celebrated the life of pioneer civil rights activist Edie Windsor. Edie, a landmark technologist and leader in the fight for LGBTQIA+ marriage equality, left her mark on the world — and left a significant impact on the legacy of Lesbians Who Tech & Allies. This week, in honor of Edie’s birthday and the fifth-annual celebration of Edie Windsor Day, we wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on the life of our friend Edie, and honor her lifetime of contributions to the world.
Throughout her incredible life, Edie broke barriers towards inclusion and equity in both the technology and civil rights sectors. She served as Senior Systems Programmer at IBM, and changed the game for gender representation in the tech industry at a time when few women entered tech spaces. Edie earned a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from New York University, and went on to achieve a Master’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard. After leaving IBM, Edie continued her work in the tech industry as the founding President of consulting firm PC Classics, who worked on software development projects. As a technologist, Edie shifted the paradigm around who counts and who is included in the tech industry.
But Edie’s life far surpassed her contributions to technology. Edie went on to be the face of the landmark 2013 civil rights case United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and paved the way for federal marriage equality in the United States. Edie’s case was born after the death of her wife, Thea Spyer. After Spyer’s death, the Internal Revenue Service taxed Edie’s spousal inheritance $363,000, because DOMA did not allow same-sex couples to utilize marital tax deductions. Edie fought against this ruling, taking her case to the Supreme Court, where the Court ruled in a 5–4 decision that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
The landmark victory in Windsor v. United States paved the way for Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that would federally recognize marriage equality two years later.
In 2016, one year before her death, Edie married financial advisor and LGBTQIA+ activist Judith Kasen. The marriage between Windsor and Kasen helped Edie’s legacy to continue long past her death, as Kasen-Windsor continues to be a steadfast champion of her late wife.
Edie Windsor Day was first recognized by New York State in 2018 to honor Edie’s achievements and contributions to the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ Americans. As an organization, we were so inspired by the Edie’s lifetime of dedication to equity that we named a scholarship after her. Our Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship provides economic opportunity for young queer women and trans and nonbinary techies to kickstart their coding career and break into technology without financial barriers. We hope to continue Edie’s legacy through providing LGBTQIA+ techies access to educational opportunity — just as Edie did while she was alive.
This week, we pause to honor our friend Edie, and hold tight with gratitude her wife Judith, who shared Edie with the world 💙🏳️🌈
Want to Read More About Edie? Here Are Some Resources ::
⚡️ Edie Windsor :: Champion for Marriage Equality from The New York Historical Society
⚡️ The Legacy of Edie Windsor from The New Yorker
⚡️ 11 Quotes From Our Hero — Edie Windsor — at Lesbians Who Tech New York from Lesbians Who Tech & Allies