Voice for Equality: Reverend Cecil Williams

On November 1, 2008, Rev. Cecil Williams led a service at Glide Memorial Church entitled, "People of Faith Say No to Proposition 8." It was an invitation to faith leaders and political supporters to come together to speak out against Proposition 8.

This wasn't anything new for Rev. Williams. Earlier that year, Williams and his wife of 26 years Janice Miritikani, were featured in a public education campaign called Let California Ring where he said, "We celebrate the love and commitment of all the newly married gay and lesbian couples and their families in our congregation."

He led Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco until 2000. As a leader of the church, he increased its membership to 10,000 and inspired church members to fight for equality while opening the church doors to people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations.

Jonathan Herczeg nominated The Reverend Cecil Williams to be a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: Antonio Villaraigosa

Villaraigosa is the mayor of Los Angeles (since 2005) and the city's first Latino mayor in over 100 years. Villaraigosa is also the former speaker of the California State Assembly.

Mayor Villaraigosa officiated at L.A.'s first same-sex marriage in June 2008.
On November 15, 2008, Mayor Villaraigosa addressed thousands of protesters at City Hall to demand equality for all and to protest the passage of Proposition 8.

Margaret nominated Antonio Villaraigosa to be a Voice for Equality.



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Voice for Equality: Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, continues the legacy of her celebrated father through the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She currently works in public education as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools. Kennedy also serves on the board for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and for the Commission on Presidential Debates, and served on presidential candidate Barack Obama's committee to select a running mate.

Kennedy issued a statement saying that she "supports full equality and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples," when asked by the New York Times in December 2008 about same-sex marriage.

Ben Bernard nominated Caroline Kennedy to be a Voice for Equality.


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Voice for Equality: Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), wife of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an active civil rights activist throughout her husband's career and beyond, helping to organize the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and actively advocating civil rights legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She continued to lead the civil rights movement after her husband's 1968 assassination.

In 2004, King called same-sex marriage a "civil rights issue" and denounced a Constitutional amendment which proposed to ban marriage equality. She said, "A Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

King was an early advocate for marriage equality and a vocal endorser of the Marriage Resolution, for which Ben nominated her to be a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: Willie Brown

Former mayor of San Francisco (1996-2004). Brown also served more than three decades in the California State Assembly-- 15 of them as speaker. He's known for his social policy and public safety reforms as mayor, and known in the legislature for decriminalizing sodomy in 1975. In his first mayoral term, he signed the Equal Benefits Ordinance (1996), extending domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples in San Francisco-- although he recognizes that partnership benefits and civil unions are ultimately insufficient for marriage equality. He said in 2003, "Couples of any sexual orientation ought to enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, period." Needless to say, he was a vocal opponent last November of California's Proposition 8.

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Voice for Equality: T.R. Knight


Best known for his role as Dr. George O'Malley on ABC's hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy, T.R. Knight began his acting career on the stage in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. In the early 2000s, he began appearing in a handful of guest spots on programs ranging from Frasier to Law & Order.

In response to his views on marriage equality, Knight said, ""It shouldn't be any different from any other fundamental rights - freedom or religion, freedom of speech. That's not for some, that's for all. We're in a free society." October 14, 2008, the day after Equality California called for an emergency LGBT media briefing, Knight donated $50,000 to "No on 8" to fight the proposed California state Constitutional amendment to overturn marriage equality.

Nominated by Margaret Santiago.

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Voice for Equality: Christine Chavez

The next nomination for "Voices for Equality": Civil rights activist Christine Chavez, who currently serves as the District Director for State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero.

Chavez is the former Political Director of United Farm Workers, the union which her grandfather Cesar Chavez co-founded. Latina Magazine recently named her as one of their top Latinas of 2004 for her longtime involvement with civil rights issues-- in particular her recent work to give same sex couples the right to marry under the law. In 2005, along with 200 other organizations, the UFW took a stand to support Assembly Bill (AB) 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

As part of Chavez's longstanding commitment to LGBT rights, she took a sabbatical from the UFW in 2005 to work with Equality California, the National Latona/o Coalition for Justice, National Freedom to Marry, GLAAD's Regional and People of Color Programs, and other LGBT groups to educate local communities about the importance of LGBT rights and marriage equality in California. She also advocated for marriage equality in 2008 by speaking at a "No on 8" rally in Fresno, California.

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Voice for Equality: Eva Paterson

For more than 30 years, Paterson has campaigned for civil rights. Paterson is the former Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, former vice-president of the ACLU, and co-founder/former chairwoman of the California Coalition for Human Rights.

She is the founder and president of the Equal Justice Society (EJS), a "national organization dedicated to changing the law through progressive legal theory, public policy and practice."

In 2008, Paterson and the Equal Justice Society joined other civil rights groups to petition the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. She said, "We would be making a grave mistake to view Proposition 8 as just affecting the LGBT community. If the Supreme Court allows Proposition 8 to take effect, it would represent a threat to... all minorities."

Paterson wrote of her own inter-racial marriage in the San Francisco Chronicle in June 2008, "What gay men and lesbians are experiencing now as they seek to marry feels very familiar to me. The state has no right to tell anyone who they can and cannot love or marry. That is why this ballot initiative [Proposition 8] is misguided and cruel."

Thanks, Ben, for this nomination for Voices for Equality!


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Voice for Equality: Whoopi Goldberg

Actress Whoopi Goldberg often says, "If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't marry a gay person." She has been a longtime supporter of civil rights for LGBT people. During fall 2008, she marched with 15,000 New Yorkers in protest of Proposition 8, calling for equal rights for all her friends. Goldberg has also won two Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy Award, and a Tony Award; appeared in such films as "The Color Purple" and "Sister Act;" and was the highest-paid actress of all time in the mid-1990's.

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Voice for Equality: Ron Dellums

Ron Dellums has served as mayor of Oakland, California since 2007. He was previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served on the House Committee on the District of Columbia and the House Armed Services Committee.

On June 16, 2008, Dellums officiated in the City Council chambers at Oakland's first weddings of same-sex couples. He said, "[Marriage] is a fundamental right to which all people are entitled and I am proud that I can officiate the eternal unions of these Oakland couples."

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