While The Advocate has selected Pope Francis as Person of the Year for his impact on LGBT lives the world over, 2013 was a busy year that included major accomplishments from so many in the United States and elsewhere. (Read more about the selection of the pope.)
After vigorous debate, editors winnowed the list of outstanding figures to 10 in total. The resulting list spans multiple forms of accomplishment, multiple countries, and is representative of the struggles and successes that defined 2013 for LGBT people.
The other nine finalists for Person of the Year are presented here in no specific order.
FINALIST: JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY
Before the Supreme Court took up its two marriage equality–related cases this year, everyone already knew which vote would become most pivotal — that of Anthony Kennedy. With four of the court's justices leaning liberal and another four leaning conservative, Kennedy is often the swing vote in the most difficult and important cases.
Kennedy ruled in favor of equality this year but took his role even further, writing a majority opinion in the Windsor v. U.S.A. case that was praised by LGBT activists while being attacked in a dissent written by Antonin Scalia because it could become, Scalia worried, the foundation for an eventual ruling that brings marriage equality to all 50 states. In a 5-4 decision, Kennedy called out the federal Defense of Marriage Act as serving no other purpose except discrimination. "DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal," he wrote. "The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities."
Kennedy didn't sit quietly during hearings either. Although the fate of Proposition 8 in California was decided on more technical terms, discussion during the hearing got to the root of what's wrong with the state's ban on same-sex marriages. "There is an immediate legal injury," Kennedy suggested, "and that's the voice of these children." He was concerned for the thousands of kids with same-sex parents. "They want their parents to have full recognition and full status," Justice Kennedy said. "The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?" That's just one example for why Kennedy is not only an important vote but also an important voice for fairness.
— Lucas Grindley