Marriage supporters and out stars to be honored at tonight’s Emmy Awards

Tonight, August 25, the best and brightest in the television industry will come together for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, the annual awards ceremony honoring the year's best acting, writing, and production in television. This year's nomination roster is full of supporters of the freedom to marry and a number of openly LGBT stars.

It's a particularly banner year for the freedom to marry and LGBT equality overall at the Emmys: In addition to huge support for The Normal Heart, the play-turned-TV-movie penned by Larry Kramer and brought to HBO by Ryan Murphy, nominees from shows like Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Scandal are being honored for roles where they play complex LGBT characters. Here's how 15 of the nominees have raised their voices for the freedom to marry.

Jim Parsons

Vying for his fifth Emmy tonight for his role as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy for The Big Bang Theory, Parsons is also up for a Supporting Actor award for The Normal Heart. The openly gay star has been in a loving, committed relationship with his husband Todd Spiewak for many years. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The Veep star, who is coming off two years in a row taking home the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Emmy, has long had a strong relationship with the LGBT community. She spoke recently with The Advocate, explaining, "I'm supportive of same-sex marriage. I'm all for it. I can't imagine not being for it."

Matthew McConaughey

After a banner year at the Academy Award and on television's True Detective, for which he's nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Drama, Matthew McConaughey has remained a strong voice for equality and for the freedom to marry specifically. 

Bryan Cranston

He may have played an anti-hero on Breaking Bad with a terrible moral compass, for which he's nominated this year for Outstanding Actor in a Drama, but offscreen, Bryan Cranston has expressed his clear values of supporting all families and standing up for the freedom to marry. Last year, he spoke up for equality alongside his wife and daughter, saying, "Gay and lesbian couples should have the right to experience the joys of marriage and family."

Mark Ruffalo

The actor, nominated for his work in The Normal Heart, is a strident supporter of equality for same-sex couples. He has spoken out specifically against 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and California's Proposition 8. He often contributes to projects that demonstrate complex looks at the lives of LGBT people, including the Oscar-nominated The Kids Are All Right. He told reporters in 2010, "The more people get to experience ‘these people’ (gay and lesbian couples) who are not so much unlike themselves, the more accepting they become. You can’t know somebody like that then want to take away something (like marriage) that is so precious to them."

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Modern Family's Mitchell, who married activist Justin Mikita this year, has been a vocal advocate for the freedom to marry across the country, contributing hugely to discussions in California and Illinois and even launching 'Tie The Knot' last year, an organization that sells bow ties to benefit the campaign to win marriage nationwide.

Kerry Washington

The Scandal star, nominated this year for Outstanding Actress in a Drama, has been a vocal advocate for marriage for same-sex couples, taking to Twitter to cheer on the Supreme Court ruling striking down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, thanking President Barack Obama for supporting the freedom to marry in May 2012, and applauding the New York state legislature when they approved a marriage bill.

Melissa McCarthy

"Our friends at the table are gay couples, and my kids have friends with same-sex parents," the Mike & Molly star (and previous Emmy winner) has said. "I love that my girls see no difference between those same-sex couples and the male-female couples that we hang out with. I'm more proud of that than anything."

Ty Burrell

The Modern Family star, nominated for a Supporting Actor in a Comedy award tonight, has stood up for the freedom to marry many times throughout the show's run. This year, the actor, who also owns a bar in Salt Lake City, Utah, served as an officiant to a lesbian couple's wedding, after which he cheered on the freedom to marry in Utah. He said after last December's court ruling establishing marriage for same-sex couples in the state, "To see some of my best friends getting married really feels like a miracle. And it's been cool to be in Utah for it, too, because people are much more tolerant and open and loving about that issue than I think they get credit for."

Andre Braugher

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star has won acclaim this year for his work on the debut season of the Fox sitcom, in which he plays gay police captain Ray Holt. He said this year, "I think it’s wonderful that [Holt's sexuality] is part of a complex person, as opposed to the defining characteristic, because when it is the defining characteristic it’s always gonna bump up, inevitably, against good taste and wind up creating an offensive stereotype."

Julianna Margulies

The titular star of The Good Wife has long been a supporter of marriage for same-sex couples, appearing in promotional videos with her husband Keith Lieberthal to increase support for marriage in New York in 2011. She is nominated tonight once again for an Outstanding Lead Actress nomination. 

Lena Dunham

The young creator-writer-producer-star of HBO's Girls has spoken up about marriage in recent years, often referencing her sister, who is gay. During the 2012 election, she explained, "I'm voting because I want to party at my sister's future wedding," referencing President Barack Obama's fervent support for the freedom to marry. She has also said that she and her boyfriend, Jack Antonoff of the band fun., will not marry until same-sex couples across the country are able to.

Josh Charles

The star of The Good Wife, nominated this year for a Outstanding Supporting Actor trophy, is a longtime supporter of the freedom to marry, speaking out often for marriage during the campaign to win in New York, as well as lending his voice to's campaign to increase awareness about the 2012 marriage ballot campaigns in Washington, Maryland, Minnesota and Maine. 

Mandy Patinkin

The Homeland actor and musical theater veteran has long spoken out for equality for LGBT Americans. He said, "Freedom, justice and dignity for all humanity are the most important things on this planet. For all humanity."

Matt Bomer

The actor has long been involved in the campaign to win marriage nationwide, speaking out for the freedom to marry and calling for equality in every state, perhaps most notably through his work raising awareness about Proposition 8 in California. Matt and his husband, Simon Hall, married in 2011. 

Openly LGBT stars are also all over the nomination list, including Sarah Paulson of American Horror Story: Coven, Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black, Kate McKinnon of Saturday Night Live and Nathan Lane of Modern Family.

Many other nominees this year - including Robin Wright of House of Cards, Amy Poehler of Parks and Recreation, Ricky Gervais of Derek, Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie, Taylor Schilling of Orange is the New Black, Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Louis C.K. of Louie, Mandy Patinkin of Homeland, Allison Janey of Mom and Masters of Sex, Jane Fonda of The Newsroom, Christine Baranski of The Good Wife - have been strident supporters of the freedom to marry