Voice for Equality: Melissa Harris-Lacewell

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is an American writer, political scientist and an Associate Professor of Politics and African American studies at Princeton University. She grew up in the Virginia cities of Charlottesville and Chester with a black father, the dean of Afro-American affairs at the University of Virginia; and a white mother, who taught at a community college and worked for nonprofits that helped poor communities. “I’ve never thought of myself as biracial,” Harris-Lacewell says. “I’m black.” She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought on the methods African Americans use to develop political ideas through ordinary conversations in places like barbershops, churches, and popular culture. Harris-Lacewell's writings have been published in The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Crain's Chicago Business and Newsday. She regularly provides commentary for NBC News and MSNBC, and has contributed to other television and print sources. Learn more here.

In a piece she wrote for The Nation in October 2009, Ms. Harris-Lacewell stated:
Today, many same-sex couples in the United States live in a fraught, contingent space of loving attachment, unprotected by state recognition. My fierce commitment to marriage equality derives, in part, from my personal biography as an interracial child, descended from American slaves, and raised in Virginia, beginning less than a decade after the Loving decision. Even though I am heterosexual, marriage equality is personal. I learn from the history of racial and interracial marriage exclusion that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples is wrong. [Link]
Freedom to Marry salutes Melissa Harris-Lacewell as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

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Voice for Equality: Margaret Hoover

Margaret Hoover is a conservative American political commentator, political strategist and blogger. She is the great-granddaughter of former President Herbert Hoover. She worked for Bush-Cheney ‘04, Inc. and was the Deputy Press Secretary to Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart on Capitol Hill. She then held a White House appointment in the Bush Administration, and also served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. Most recently, she has worked as Deputy Finance Director to Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential Exploratory Committee. She is a frequent contributor to Fox News's O'Reilly Factor. Learn more here.

On January 15, 2010, an op-ed piece by Ms. Hoover appeared on FoxNews.com in which she discussed the Prop 8 Trial in California. She touted the conservative credentials of lead counsel Ted Olson and expressed her agreement with him that "constitutionally guaranteed rights ought to transcend left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican divides." She encouraged fellow conservatives to "pay attention to the landmark civil rights trial which began this week in California," and continued:

Gays and lesbians are our friends, neighbors, doctors, colleagues, sisters and brothers. Does it sit well with you that because of their sexual orientation, a factor outside one’s control, that they should have less rights and protections in the eyes of the law? While increasing acceptance of gays marks my generational experience—Ellen DeGeneres is welcomed into the living rooms of millions of Americans daily, an impossibility in even my childhood— many who are older than me fear that if gays and lesbians can marry, what’s next? They worry that homosexual marriage degrades the integrity of heterosexual marriage. They fear that their children might be exposed to alternative lifestyles that will impact them negatively, or argue that the purpose of marriage is procreation. If you are uncomfortable with gay marriage, I encourage you to pay attention to this trial, the plaintiffs, the defense and the spectrum of experts, historians, psychologists, economists, political scientists, who will testify as to the effects and detriment of Proposition 8. In the words of NAACP chairman Julian Bond, “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others. [Link]

Freedom to Marry salutes Margaret Hoover as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

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Voice for Equality: Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is a Greek-American author and syndicated columnist. She is best known as co-founder of the liberal news website, The Huffington Post. In 2003 she ran as an independent candidate for Governor in the California recall election. In 2009, Huffington was named as number 12 in Forbes' first ever list of the Most Influential Women In Media. Huffington has written several books including: Maria Callas — The Woman Behind the Legend, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, and Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe. She has also made a few forays into acting with roles on television shows such as Roseanne, The L Word, Help Me Help You, and the film EdTV. Learn more here.

It was announced on October 14, 2009 that Arianna Huffington would be participating in the Love Unites Shepard Fairey Equality Project, a new marriage equality advocacy project for which 100 celebrities would be signing their names and customizing a Shepard Fairey print titled Defend Equality - Love Unites. Fairey, whose Obama Hope print became the iconic emblem of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, was approached by FAIR, an LGBT grassroots marriage equality organization, to commission an image that would help unite and inspire the marriage equality movement. “I am proud to contribute the Defend Equality Love Unites image to the fight for marriage equality, and commend FAIR for putting this image to good use." The signed prints will be sold in online auctions through December 9, 2009. [Link]

Freedom to Marry salutes Arianna Huffington as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

If Ms. Huffington's support inspires you - get involved. Click to support the urgent marriage equality effort in New Jersey here!

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Voice for Equality: Triad Equality Alliance

The Triad Equality Alliance (TEA) was founded in March 2004 as part of EqualityNC Project. TEA's mission is to eliminate prejudice and to secure social justice and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people by educating and enlightening the general public about LGBT members of the community and the special issues affecting them. Learn more here.

Since April 15th, 2004, TEA has run a series of highly visible and thought-provoking billboards at the intersection of two large highways between Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The billboards have featured short pro-LGBT messages along with pictures of many local LGBT people. The campaign series have included: "Good People," "Valued Members," "All Equal," "Gay Equality," "abOUT Face" and "Long Enough" - see images below:













An example of the many volunteers who have appeared in TEA's billboards are Lennie and Pearl, who have been together for 43 years. Their story, shared on the TEA website, puts the need for equal rights for the LGBT community in sharp focus:
For 43 years we have lived love-filled lives, arrayed with rich experiences, satisfying careers, and supportive family and friends. We have known "togetherness" as a special kind of sharing - ideas, daily habits, foods, likes and dislikes, travels, finances - everything! At the same time, we have maintained great respect for each other’s "individuality." As with most people, we have worked hard, paid taxes, given service to the community, and endeavored to live lives of honesty, integrity and dedication to the greater good. But, unlike most people in the USA, we have been denied equal rights, a concept basic to the principles of our country.
Not content to rest on their laurels, Triad Equality Alliance next has its sites set on radio ads and other media to reach even more people in the future.

Freedom to Marry salutes the Triad Equality Alliance for their brilliant work in delivering effective messages to their North Carolina community that have put a face and personal spin on the marriage equality debate! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

If TEA's activism inspires you - get involved. Click to support the urgent marriage equality effort in New Jersey here!

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Voice for Equality: Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, and creator of the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. He is the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC. His older brother, Daniel Simmons, Jr, is an accomplished abstract artist. Since May 2005, Russell Simmons has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, and in January 2009 he was named Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com: The World According To Hip-Hop. Simmons is the third richest figure in hip hop, behind only Jay-Z and Sean Combs. Learn more here.

In April 2009, Mr. Simmons sent an open letter to New York Governor David Paterson in support of marriage equality, and then in October 2009 his participation in the Love Unites Shepard Fairey Equality Project, a new marriage equality advocacy project, was announced. More than 80 celebrities were enlisted to sign their names to a Shepard Fairey print titled Defend Equality - Love Unites. Fairey, whose Obama Hope print became the iconic emblem of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, was approached by FAIR, an LGBT grassroots marriage equality organization, to commission an image that would help unite and inspire the marriage equality movement. “I am proud to contribute the Defend Equality Love Unites image to the fight for marriage equality, and commend FAIR for putting this image to good use." The signed prints will be sold in online auctions starting in November 2009. [Link]

Freedom to Marry salutes Russell Simmons as a Voice for Equality! See other Voices for Equality here.

If Mr. Simmons' support inspires you - get involved!

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Voice For Equality: Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian and television host. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits. Colbert wrote and performed on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show before collaborating with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello on the cult television series Strangers with Candy. He gained considerable attention for his role on the latter as closeted, gay history teacher Chuck Noblet. It was his work as a correspondent on Comedy Central's news-parody series The Daily Show (for which Mr. Colbert won three Emmy Awards for writing), however, that first introduced him to a wide audience. Since its debut, The Colbert Report has been successful, establishing itself as one of Comedy Central's highest-rated series, earning Colbert three Emmy nominations and an invitation to perform as featured entertainer at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in 2006. Colbert was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in 2006, and his book, I Am America (And So Can You!), was No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List. Learn more here. Mr. Colbert has been a tireless satirist of anti-gay groups' efforts to use fear and falsehoods to influence opinions about marriage equality. After the propagandist "Gathering Storm" video was released by the National Organization for Marriage in April 2009, Mr. Colbert ran a parody on The Colbert Report poking holes in NOM's logic and arguments:

 

 

 

 

Then on the October 26, 2009 Colbert Report, Mr. Colbert found some comedic truths while pursuing the logic of domestic-partnership opponents in Washington State to its absurd conclusions:

here. If Mr. Colbert's comedic support inspires you, take action! Link to No on 1/Protect Maine Equality to find out how you can help with the vital work of preserving marriage equality in Maine! **Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Don't Ask Don't Tell
http://www.colbertnation.com/

Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

Freedom to Marry salutes Stephen Colbert as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality

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Voice for Equality: Bill Maher

William "Bill" Maher is an American stand-up comedian, television host, social and political commentator, and author. Before his current role as the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher hosted a similar late-night talk show called Politically Incorrect on Comedy Central and later on ABC. Maher is known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary. His commentaries target a wide swath of topics: religion, politics, bureaucracies of many kinds, political correctness, the mass media, greed among people and persons in positions of high political and social power, among many others. Learn more here.

On October 9, 2009, Mr. Maher wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Huffington Post with the headline: New Rule: Everyone Deserves Equal Rights. Included in his remarks:
Tomorrow night President Obama will speak before a gay rights group, and on Sunday there will be a massive gay rally in Washington... Which makes this weekend the perfect time for Obama to announce he's repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and committing to a full-throated endorsement of marriage equality.
He went on to facetiously explain that conservatives are easily distracted and that pushing the freedom to marry to the forefront of political discourse would probably enable the passage of health care reform and climate initiatives - but beneath the humor, his equality message was clear. [Link]

Freedom to Marry salutes Bill Maher as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

If Mr. Maher's support moves you, take action yourself! Link to No on 1/Protect Maine Equality to find out how you can help with the vital work of preserving marriage equality in Maine!

**Make your NOMINATION for a Voice for Equality today!

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Voice for Equality: David Letterman

David Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television host and comedian. He is best known as the host of a late night television talk show, "Late Show with David Letterman", broadcast on CBS. He has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of "Late Night with David Letterman" on NBC, which went off the air when he moved to CBS in 1993. Only Johnny Carson, one of Letterman's idols, has had a longer late-night hosting career.

 

On the August 19, 2009 broadcast of his talk show, while interviewing Donald Trump about the upcoming Miss Universe telecast, Mr. Letterman took the opportunity to express his clear support for marriage equality while also poking a little fun at the marriages of straight couples. The audience's reaction was widespread applause - even The Donald nodded:

 

[Link]

 

Freedom to Marry salutes David Letterman, who can make a point while making us laugh, as a Voice for Equality!

 

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Voice for Equality: Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite, who pioneered and then mastered the role of television news anchorman with such plain-spoken grace that he was called the most trusted man in America, was a nightly presence in American homes from 1962 to 1981. He guided viewers through national triumphs and tragedies alike, from moonwalks to war, in an era when network news was central to many people’s lives. He became something of a national institution, with an unflappable delivery, a distinctively avuncular voice and a daily benediction: “And that’s the way it is.”

Along with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC, Mr. Cronkite was among the first celebrity anchormen. In 1995, 14 years after he retired from the CBS Evening News, a TV Guide poll ranked him No. 1 in seven of eight categories for measuring television journalists. He was so widely known that in Sweden anchormen were once called "Cronkiters." Learn more here.

Cronkite, who died on July 17, 2009 at the age of 92, was an advocate for the separation of church and state, and in this capacity he came out squarely against the Defense of Marriage Act and for the right of gay Americans to marry. In a newspaper column he wrote for King Features Syndicate in 2003, when he was 86, Walter Cronkite wrote:
Conservatives, particularly those of the Christian right, are determined that marriage equality must be banned by federal law, even perhaps by amendments to our Constitution.
Massachusetts had just become the first state to legalize marriage equality.

It certainly is the right of those who oppose the freedom to marry to defend, express and even propagandize their beliefs, but is it their right to impose their definition of morality on those who hold opposing views? The answer is a resounding 'no' from the large chorus of those who believe that our individual rights are precious and should not be trampled upon by even those of deep religious convictions, including those in their own churches.

Freedom to Marry salutes "the most trusted man in America," Walter Cronkite, as a Voice for Equality!

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Voice for Equality: Al Franken

Alan Franken is an American entertainer-turned-politician. In 2008, Franken ran as the Democratice-Farmer-Labor Party candidate for U.S. Senate from Minnesota. On June 30, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld Franken's victory, and stated that he was entitled to be certified as the election winner. Hours later, former Republican Senator, Norm Coleman, conceded the race.

Franken has worked as a comedian, writer and liberal political commentator. He has also been a longtime champion for gay rights. In fact, in 2005 a blogger, wrote about a speech Franken delivered: “Franken first talked about gay marriage. He portrayed it as a basic issue of civil rights, invoking miscengenation.”

Freedom to Marry salutes Al Franken - a Voice for Equality as far back as 2005 - and now one of 14 marriage equality supporters in the U.S. Senate.

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