FINALIST: THE PLAINTIFFS
When the case to fight Proposition 8 first launched with the backing of the newly formed American Foundation for Equal Rights and powerhouse lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, it was the subject of harsh debate among LGBT activists about whether the right time was now for a full press on marriage equality rather than civil unions. Much of that is now forgotten, and the plaintiffs in the case — Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo — have not only won the argument, but they did it at the Supreme Court.
Then there's Edie Windsor, who made a point of noting that her case was also turned away by major LGBT rights organizations when she first tried fighting the Defense of Marriage Act. It was attorney Roberta Kaplan who recognized its potential.
Thanks to the perseverance of all of the plaintiffs and their lawyers, same-sex marriage had an important legal moment and an important cultural one. Social media was filled with supportive red equality signs, and friends were given reason to talk about their beliefs. Meanwhile, the biggest mainstream news outlets paused to talk about LGBT equality. The immediate effect of these cases is marriage equality in California, plus the demise of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Couples' marriages are being recognized, and many who refile taxes are getting money back from the government. Binational couples who were being split up because the federal government would not recognize their marriages are no longer facing that threat. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces finally can have their spouses considered part of the family. The effects are still being felt as the Supreme Court's ruling is referenced in cases going forward.
But listen to Windsor, who has spoken so eloquently for us throughout, and you'll agree on the decision's most important effect. On the day of the ruling, she told a room full of cameras and reporters, "Not only does a much larger portion of our country, and the straight members of our country, see us differently, as just people who live and love who bring up kids who will play with their kids, but our own community has come out and seen each other and loved each other in a way that makes me courageous and proud and joyous every day."
— Lucas Grindley