Niki Quasney Dead: Lesbian, Gay Rights Activist Dies Of Cancer

Niki Quasney, the lesbian woman who fought for her right to have her marriage recognized, has died.

ABC News is reporting that Niki Quasney lost her battle with ovarian cancer, five years after her original diagnosis. Quasney’s case became known nationwide after she and her partner, Amy Sandler, fought against the gay marriage ban and won, despite Niki’s ongoing health problems.

Concerning their victory, attorney Paul Castillo made the following statement to the Indy Star.

“Niki and Amy and their daughters became Indiana’s first family when they bravely joined Lambda Legal’s marriage case, which meant openly sharing very personal and painful parts of their journey together as Niki battled cancer. They knew that by coming forward they could help accelerate equality for all same-sex couples in Indiana by demonstrating the urgency of their need for equal dignity.”

The judge recognized that the couple needed to have access to state and federal benefits due to Niki’s illness. But despite that great win, Niki and Amy didn’t want to feel that the victory happened only because she had cancer, but because it was the right thing to do for same-sex couples who want to be protected and live in peace with their families.

“I don’t know how to explain it, really. For a minute I was like, ‘Wow. That’s amazing. That’s great. [But] I don’t want to feel like this should be a special privilege just because I have cancer. I think that does not seem right.”

The stage 4 cancer was discovered after she complained to the doctor about a pain in her chest. Quasney, who was working as an elementary school Physical Education teacher at the time, immediately left her job and traveled to visit family, along with her wife, Amy Sandler. She also learned that the cancer had spread rapidly to other areas.

But even through the health challenges, Niki still smiled all the way through it, and with the help and support of her loving family, she fought the battle until the end.

Their story is reminiscent of the landmark case involving Janine Ratcliffe and Joan Perlman, a lesbian couple who made headlines in the 1980s. Joan and Janine had a baby by artificial insemination, but when Joan died, Janine Ratcliffe had to fight her partner’s parents for legal custody of the child. She eventually won her case and raised the child until she reached adulthood. That case inspired the Lifetime movie What Makes A Family.

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