Pope Francis beats out gay marriage activist Windsor for Time's Person of the Year

Pope Francis, named Time's Person of the Year for 2013, told journalists in July that gay men and lesbians should not be judged or marginalized by the Catholic Church.

Knocking down the barrier preventing federally-recognized same-sex marriages just doesn't have the same punch it used to.

Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old woman whose legal fight ended with the Supreme Court declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, took the number three spot in Time magazine's annual Person of the Year contest.


The top Person of the Year honors went to Pope Francis, the first non-European leader of the Holy See who Time dubs "The People's Pope." Other members of the shortlist include NSA leaker Edward Snowden, embattled Syrian president Bashar Assad and Senate Republican Ted Cruz.

So it's not as if Windsor lacked tough competition.


"I am honored that Time chose me ... but I am just one person who was part of the extraordinary and ongoing fight for marriage equality for all our families," Windsor wrote in a note emailed to Towleroad Wednesday morning. She goes on to say "the gay community is my 'person of the year.'" Aww! Thanks, Edie.

Pope Francis likely wouldn't make the same statement, though he is the Vatican's most overtly gay-friendly leader to date. The pontiff made headlines back in July when he told reporters he wouldn't judge gay Catholic priests. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" At the time, it felt like a huge shift, given that his predecessor once called being gay "an objective disorder."

But actions speak louder than words, and the church under Pope Francis hasn't made any real progressive moves toward embracing the LGBT community. The pope has been an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage, and his comments follow the Vatican's longstanding attitude that being gay isn't an issue but gay sex acts are sins. (Put more simply: Celibate gays are A-OK.)

The simple phrase "who am I to judge?" reverberated across the LGBT community and got church leaders talking openly about an issue that had been essentially verboten. But actual large-scale change -- the kind Windsor sparked -- has yet to come.

Now that Time has honored Pope Francis for preaching compassion and tolerance, citing in part his softening stance on LGBT individuals, the real question is: What's next?