Edie Windsor Recognized On Time’s Person of the Year Short List

This morning, Time announced its Person of the Year. Considering the many ups and downs of 2013 – so many wins! so many more frustrating almost-wins! – it was no surprise to see two figures prominently associated with LGBT rights included on the short list: Pope Francis, winning the official “Person of the Year” title, and lesbian activist Edie Windsor taking second runner up.

First, briefly, the ever controversial Pope Francis.

Pope stands in a crowd of people.

Thousands turn out in Rome to greet Francis during his biweekly audiences. Via Francesco Zizola / NOOR for TIME

In the profile of Pope Francis, Time highlights his connection to LGBT rights,

The five words that have come to define both the promise and the limits of Francis’ papacy came in the form of a question: “Who am I to judge?” That was his answer when asked about homo­sexuality by a reporter in July. Many assumed Francis, with those words, was changing church doctrine. Instead, he was merely changing its tone, searching for a pragmatic path to reach the faithful who had been repelled by their church or its emphasis on strict dos and don’ts. … In short, ease up on the hot-button issues. That might not seem like significant progress in the U.S. and other developed nations. But the Pope’s sensitivity to sexual orientation has a different impact in many developing countries, where homo­phobia is institutionalized, widespread and sanctioned.

This seems appropriate. While Pope Francis has been breaking new ground within the tradition of Catholic leadership, it’s important to note that he has not (yet) changed any official doctrine. Only time will tell how this shakes out.

Moving on.

Edie Windsor holds a portrait of her wife, Thea Spyer.

Edie Windsor holds a portrait of her wife, Thea Spyer. Via .

In Eliza Gray‘s profile of Edie Windsor, Time describes Windsor as an “unlikely activist” who slowly but steadily grew into the role of “matriarch of the gay-rights movement.” Chronicling the 84 year-old’s long journey to acceptance, the article lovingly describes Windsor’s secret girlhood crushes, her proposal to longtime partner Thea Spyer (done with a diamond brooch because an engagement ring would have been too risky), the first time she came out to coworkers (done the night before a biannual conference for computer programmers on the West Coast), and, eventually, her life as an out lesbian activist.

Windsor made national headlines in 2010 when she sued the government for a $363,053 refund of estate taxes she had to pay upon her spouse’s death. After a long legal battle, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in Windsor’s favor, overturning DOMA and federally recognizing same sex marriage for the very first time.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27:  Edith Windsor (C), 83, acknowledges her supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court March 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case 'Edith Schlain Windsor, in Her Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Thea Clara Spyer, Petitioner v. United States,' which challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the second case about same-sex marriage this week.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Windsor outside the Supreme Court when it heard oral arguments in March 2013. Via Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images.

Windsor released a statement today, saying,

I am honored that Time chose me as one of the number 3 individuals in the top 5 nominees for ‘Person of the Year,’ but I am just one person who was part of the extraordinary and on-going fight for marriage equality for all our families. There are thousands of people who helped us come this far and we still have a lot more work to do. The gay community is my ‘person of the year’ and I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies.

Other candidates making Time’s short list included document leaker Edward Snowden at number two, Syrian President Bashar Assad at four, and anti-gay GOP neanderthal Ted Cruz at number five.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. “and anti-gay GOP neanderthal Ted Cruz at number five”

    I love AutoStraddle and also Edie fucking Windsor!

  2. I know it was great to see her on the shortlist but I was really rooting for her to win it this year. I am so over hearing people rave about how great Pope Francis is.

  3. I kind of sort of really wanted to see Wendy Davis, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I think it’s fitting that the Pope was the final pick because of how much he’s been in the news. I mean, the guy used to be a bouncer at a club. He seems to be a good, cool dude.
    I will forever be in love with Edie and her love story, though. What an amazing woman, and what an amazing love story. Sobbed the whole way through the documentary about her, and made everyone I knew watch it. Mmmmm.

    • In my dreams, Wendy Davis will have another chance, because in my dreams Wendy Davis will be my governor a year from now.

      • And then president!
        If she doesn’t eventually run for president, I think I might riot or something. Or move to Argentina and give up hope on America ever getting their sexist shit together.

  4. This woman is so elegant and humble every time she speaks. It’s wonderful that she continues to be recognized for her triumph over injustice and the progress she continues to make! Edie for president!

  5. As much as I would love to be hopeful about Pope Francis, I just can’t. We’re talking about church doctrine that prohibits condoms, oral sex and masturbation WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF A HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE. I just don’t see it happening. If someone has evidence to correct me, please do…I want to be wrong about this. :(

    • Yup, don’t see it too.

      When he was head of the church in Argentina, he and the president disagreed on gay marriage.

      As a somewhat non-practising Catholic, it’s all just rhetoric to me. Make a stand or shut up. Or Catholics will start making little interpretations of their own, and some will be really stupid.

  6. EDIE fricking WINDSOR. i was so stoked to read that she made it into the top 3!! I read another article the other day, not sure what site but it had the TOP 10 and I saw Edie on there and I was like COOL!!! But I sort of expected Pope Francis to be chosen. I mean the Pope you know…he definitely made headlines this year and I agree with him on ‘changing the tone’ on some hot button issues. It’s not that he’s saying those issues are all fine and dandy, I think he’s just saying them in a nicer way.

  7. As a Catholic (practicing), Pope Francis certainly deserved person of the year. He was elected Pope after another Pope resigned (something almost unheard of in the Catholic Church) and has been teaching the way Jesus would have. Aka be friends with the sinners and do not judge. I would have loved to see more on him instead of the runner up

    • AS has covered Pope Francis a lot over the past few months so if you want more about him, there are a bunch of articles. –> http://www.autostraddle.com/tag/pope-francis/

      This one however is about how great it is that Edie Windsor is being recognized for her role in having DOMA overturned, which is something completely worth celebrating, writing and reading about.

    • Also, you know, this is a website by / about / for queer women and Eddie Windsor is a queer woman while the Pope is straight man.

    • So the Pope is a vast improvement over Benedict, that’s for sure. But I don’t think he deserves any cookies for being a pretty decent human being. I appreciate his approach, but church doctrine hasn’t changed and I don’t expect it to anytime soon.

  8. AS readers- if you haven’t watched Edie and Thea stop whatever you’re doing and watch it. Warning, there are not enough tissues in the world. Because feelings.

    Edie is a history maker. Maybe one day she’ll make it on a coin like Susan B. Anthony!

  9. I’m not holding my breath about the new pope, just because of his reactionary views on women and women’s health and women in the church. I don’t like the guy. The fact that people are praising him just shows how low the bar is set. Anyone who didn’t used to be a Hitler youth is praise-worthy, I guess.

  10. “her proposal to longtime partner Thea Spyer (done with a diamond brooch because an engagement ring would have been too risky)”

    So many feelings! I’m just so incredibly proud of the stand she took and this line really puts into context how the world was for her. I’m so moved by her story and I like to think that people that are buying Time thinking “yay pope francis” might take a moment to see this amazing lady’s story and consider their views. I dunno, I just like the idea of her story sitting being represented there.

  11. Wonderful piece. Time always underwhelms me with their person of the year.

    I am kind of sick of hearing about Pope Francis. I understand that within the Catholic church he is hugely progressive because he, unlike his predecessors, isn’t spewing hate while wrapped up in an outdated worldview.

    Edie Windsor however, would have made a great person of the year.

  12. This is so exciting! I think both Pope Francis and Edie Windsor (and everyone else in the top five, to be honest) have been catalysts for really important conversations, and these two have made pretty substantial impacts on society, especially for queer people. And Edie Windsor is basically just fantastic.

    On another note, I really appreciate the way Laura covers the Pope.

Comments are closed.