September 12, 2017 at 7:28 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama on Edith Windsor: ‘Few made as big a difference to America’
Ebola, gay news, Washington Blade

President Obama issued a statement upon the death of Edith Windsor.
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former President Barack Obama has issued a statement upon the death of lesbian activist Edith Windsor, saying “few made as a big difference to America” as result of her pursuit for marriage equality.

“America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right,” Obama said.  “Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.”

Obama was president in 2013 at the time the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act as a result of Windsor’s legal challenge. As Obama recalled in his statement, he called her by phone at the time the ruling was handed down to congratulate her.

But Obama said he also thought about Windsor two years later when the Supreme Court issued its decision extending marriage equality nationwide.

“I thought about Edie that day,” Obama said. “I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free. They deserve our gratitude. And so does Edie.”

Obama concluded by saying he and former first lady Michelle Obama offer their condolences to Judith Kasen-Windsor, who’s been married to Windsor since last year.

Here is Obama full statement:

America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right.

Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America.

I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love.  She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years.  After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two.  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.  And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else.

In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.  The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice.  And I called Edie that day to congratulate her.

Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality.  It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love.

I thought about Edie that day.  I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free.  They deserve our gratitude.  And so does Edie.

Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.