Leaders of Change

From fighting for marriage equality to furthering the education of youth, these are only a few of the people who are furthering social and legal justice for the LGBT community through outstanding leadership of nonprofit organizations.

BY Advocate.com Editors

August 13 2013 4:00 AM ET

Evan Wolfson
Founder and President, Freedom to Marry

When Evan Wolfson could finally legally marry his husband, Cheng He, in New York in 2011, it was because he'd fought for it. Wolfson is a civil rights attorney who founded Freedom to Marry in 2003 and has become a central player in state-level marriage fights. This year, he sat down with a lawyer to apply for a green card for his husband, which became possible with the downfall of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. So his own story is like those of the many others who motivate him to keep going. Freedom to Marry has already rolled out a new national plan, called the Roadmap to Victory -- Finishing the Job. Same-sex couples can still marry in only 13 states plus the District of Columbia, and while there are some more likely targets for wins ahead, the list of longshots is pretty lengthy. But that's also how things looked back in 2003, when no state offered same-sex couples the right to marry. Getting equality in all 50 states, Wolfson says, will require all of us to have some hard conversations. "We used to say the single best predictor of a person's favorability was knowing someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender," he says. "It turns out that's not exactly right. ... It's having a conversation with a person — or someone else the person trusts — that makes the difference."

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