Voice for Equality: Maya Angelou

Hailed as one of the strongest voices in contemporary literature, Maya Angelou has penned countless novels, poems, and plays. Her most famous work, I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, chronicles Angelou’s early life and spent two years on the New York Times bestseller’s list. Throughout her illustrious career, Angelou has not hesitated to speak out for civil rights, from the 1960s to the present day.

As the state of New York debated whether or not to grant gay couples the right to marry in June, 2009, Angelou lifted her voice in support of civil rights once more:

“To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the law says, ‘I forbid you from loving this person’?”

Thanks Chaya for this great nomination!

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Voice for Equality: Frank Rich

Frank Rich is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. In addition to his work at The Times, Mr. Rich has written about culture and politics for many other publications. His childhood memoir, "Ghost Light," was published in 2000 by Random House and as a Random House Trade Paperback in 2001. Mr. Rich has two sons. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, the author and novelist Alex Witchel.

As far back as 2004, Frank Rich has championed the freedom to marry and penned a column in February of that year entitled, “The Joy of Gay Marriage.”

Freedom to Marry salutes Frank Rich as a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow does it all; she’s a radio personality, television host, and lively political commentator. Her syndicated talk radio program, The Rachel maddow Show, airs nightly on Air America Radio, and she is also host of a weeknight television show on MSNBC. Maddow, who attended Stanford and Oxford universities, is the first openly lesbian anchor to host a prime-time news program in the United States. She is also the first openly gay American to hold a Rhodes scholarship.

While Maddow refrained from endorsing any candidate in the 2008 election season, she was nonetheless a fierce advocate for LGBT America. On May 23, 2008, while appearing on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Maddow offered the following commentary on the state of marriage equality:

“What is the relationship between the sanctity of a heterosexual marriage with the sanctity, or not, of a gay marriage? I live in Massachusetts, and what we experienced with gay marriage is that all of the anti-gay marriage stuff sort of dissolved and sort of had the air knocked out of it after gay people were allowed to get married because nothing happened to straight people. Straight people’s lives didn’t change. The sky didn’t fall, no meteors, divorce didn’t go up or down, kids were still kids, adults were still adults, pets were still pets. It was all fine, and kind of took the wind out of the argument against [gay marriage].”

We congratulate Rachel Maddow for being a Voice for Equality!

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Voice for Equality: Bernard Whitman

Media commentator and president of Whitman Insight Strategies, Bernard Whitman spoke out for marriage equality in a column in Forbes on April 28, 2008. A frequent commentator on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, his firm conducts public opinion polling for companies, politicians and advocacy groups. In his column, Whitman gave a short history lesson on how the marriage movement developed and concluded with “At the end of the day, marriage equality will come: partly through the courts; partly through the legislative process. More and more community and political leaders will offer their support, and someday soon gays and lesbians all across America will be able to choose get married, or not. Which side of this history do you want to be on?”

We thank Heather nominating Bernard Whitman as a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: Meghan McCain

Meghan Marguerite McCain is the oldest daughter of Senator John McCain and Cindy McCain. She first received media attention in 2007 for her blog, McCain blogette, in which she writes about life on the campaign trail, fashion, music, and pop culture. In 2009, she began writing for The Daily Beast.

In an open letter published May 22, 2009, in the New York Daily News, McCain wrote,

“No matter how politically charged the discussions about marriage equality may get, the question is really a simple one: Do the rights and privileges we offer citizens include everyone in our country, or only some of us? I believe that allowing gays and lesbians the freedom to marry is an idea whose time has come. Though my opinion is no doubt influenced by my family's public role in political life, I still approach this from personal experience, as I think most people do. For me, this is about treating all of my friends, and all of our brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren the same as I want to be treated. Equality under the law and personal freedoms are what make America the greatest country in the world, and they are core values that I hold as a Republican.”

Nominated for Voices for Equality by: Angela

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Voice for Equality: Suze Orman

Suze Orman knows money: this celebrity financial advisor hosts The Suze Orman Show on CNBC and a consecutive six of her books hit the New York Times bestseller list. Fittingly, she's the most successful fundraiser in public television. Also fittingly, her support for marriage equality is financial in nature. In a 2007 interview with the New York Times Magazine, she said that she would want to marry her partner, because,

"It's killing me that we both have millions of dollars in our name. It’s killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa."

Megan Kinninger very enthusiastically nominated Suze Orman to be a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: John Irving

John Irving’s first novel, SETTING FREE THE BEARS, was published in 1968. THE WATER-METHOD MAN was his second novel (1972), followed by THE 158-POUND MARRIAGE (1974), HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (1981), CIDER HOUSE RULES (1985), A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY (1989), and A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR (1998) among others. He and his wife, Janet, and their three sons live in southern Vermont.

In March 2009, author John Irving wrote to his friend and fellow author Edmund White and White forwarded that note to his friends including Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry.

Edmund White wrote: Here is a letter to me from the famous (straight) novelist John Irving (The World According to Garp) about the marriage bill in Vermont. He would like you to make it widely available. - Thanks, Edmund White (Excerpt below)

Dear Edmund...Why should it matter to straight couples if gay couples Want to be married? How insecure must heterosexuals be in order to feel threatened by gay marriage? Civil unions aren't good enough -- they're not equal enough!

Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1942. He was educated at the University of Pittsburgh and University of New Hampshire, and also attended the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop where one of his teachers was Kurt Vonnegut.

Thanks to Evan Wolfson for this nomination.

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Voice for Equality: Penny Brown Reynolds

Judge Penny Brown Reynolds, television judge and ordained Baptist minister, has been nominated to be a Voice for Equality.

Judge Penny hosts the nationally syndicated television program "Family Court." Before leaving for television, Judge Penny served as a Georgia state court judge, a Georgia Assistant Attorney General, and prosecutor. Judge Penny is also an ordained Baptist Minister.

In an interview with BlackVoices.com on January 2, 2009, Judge Penny explained that marriage equality is "not an issue of being right or wrong or whether or not you believe the Bible or if God sanctioned unions between same sex; it's an issue of oppression as I see it, both legally and morally. Whenever you take a right away from someone, you are oppressing them."

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Voice for Equality: Maria Shriver

Maria Shriver became California's First Lady when her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was elected governor in November 2003. Shriver was a journalist for NBC news until 2004, appearing on the Today Show and serving as a contributor for Dateline NBC.

In an interview with a Los Angeles radio station, Shriver said she was voting against Proposition 8 because "I believe in people's right to choose a partner that they love, and that's a decision that I have come to, and I have felt that way for a long time."

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Voice for Equality: Keith Olbermann

American sportscaster, news anchor, and political commentator. He hosts Countdown with Keith Olbermann, an hour-long nightly news and commentary program on MSNBC. Starting with the 2007 NFL season, Olbermann also has served as a co-host of NBC's Football Night in America.

During his MSNBC show on November 10, 2008, he chastised those who voted for Proposition 8 and asked, "What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?"


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