Support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high in the United States, something Edith Windsor probably couldn't have fathomed when she met Thea Spyer more than 50 years ago.
Windsor, a widow who paved a path toward legalizing same-sex nuptials nationwide, died Tuesday in New York. She was 88.
The 2009 death of Windsor's first spouse, Spyer, and the suit she filed against the U.S. government afterward, made her a gay rights pioneer. The women, who married in Canada in 2007, spent more than 40 years together.
After Spyer's death, Windsor claimed the federal government's definition of marriage prevented her from getting a marital deduction on Spyer’s estate, thus leaving her with a huge tax bill that heterosexual couples would not have. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that provision in the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, allowing legally married same-sex couples to have access to the same federal benefits heterosexual couples receive.
That opinion became the foundation for the federal court rulings, and in 2015 a Supreme Court ruling granted same-sex couples the right to marry.
Now just two years after that ruling, support for gay marriage is at its highest numbers in history, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal “Social Trends” poll released this month.
Sixty percent of those polled say they support same-sex marriage, up from 53 percent in 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Among the groups showing the most support for same sex marriage are young adults, Democrats, nonreligious people and those with postgraduate degrees.
However, one in three polled say they oppose same-sex marriage. Religious people, those living in rural areas, people over 65 and supporters of President Trump were in strongest opposition.
Despite the increase in approval of same-sex marriage, Trump's position on the issue has been confusing. The White House has not commented on her passing, but former president Barack Obama weighed in on Tuesday, posting a remembrance on Facebook.
“I thought about Edie that day,” Obama said, reflecting on the Supreme Court's landmark ruling. “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.”