After receiving hundreds of great nominations, the judges, including celebrity judge and loving mom herself, Betty DeGeneres, narrowed it down to the following moms:
Melissa Ball, Pacifica, CA, was nominated by her partner. They are raising a son, Troy, who was born in 2009. Melissa became the primary caregiver when her partner, a combat veteran,suffered from debilitating postpartum depression. In nominating Melissa, her partner wrote, “She is loving, warm, ever patient and ever sacrificing. She would give her last breath for Troy and I have never doubted this. I cannot think of another mother I know that embodies love more than Melissa. In my mind, and likely Troy’s as well, Melissa will be now and forever, “Mother of the year!”
Candice Banks,West Point, NY, is a mother to many. Living on a military base in Upstate New York, Candice’s window has a rainbow decal with the words “Safe Place.” Candice’s decal is a beacon to many young soldiers who seek solace and peace of mind. The mother of a transgender son, she is truly the kind of woman that loves “because of” and not “in spite of.”
Stephanie Graham and Kay Cox,Hiram, GA, raised five children together, and are preparing to be “empty nesters” as their youngest heads off to college. They are also grandmothers to one beautiful little girl, and will soon have another grandchild to love and support as they have done with their own children. They were nominated by a teacher in their children’s high school, who said, “Nowhere since I first walked through the doors of that school have I ever seen or heard more love and parent participation than I have seen with the moms.”
Gretchen Hamm, Dallas, TX, is the mother of a lesbian daughter. During the “difficult days” of her daughter’s adolescence, Gretchen gave her a large poster for her room that said, “Be Yourself.” Later, during her daughter’s commitment ceremony to her partner, Gretchen famously took her Platform of Love to a whole new level when she founded an online boutique for same sex couples planning their ceremonies. Gretchen is a long-time HRC volunteer.
Roanoke, VA’s Linda Mecca’s unconditional love and undying support of her son Christopher has never wavered. When he was in high school he came out to her by leaving her a letter as he left for school. Once at school he received a text message from Linda. It said simply, “You will always be my favorite Christopher. I will love you forever and a day.” In nominating his mother, Christopher wrote, “My mother instilled within me the strength to love who I am. Her innate love and pride for who I am brought me immense joy.”
Pam Thompson,Fayetteville, TN, and her partner are raising their son Philip in rural Tennessee. Pam’s partner has pancreatic cancer, yet they let nothing come before their son. Pam successfully balances the challenges of motherhood, career, and personal issues despite the challenges many couples face—lack of health care rights for partners, inability to use family-medical leave, and being out lesbian parents.
“These amazing women are great examples of the ways in which everyday moms can make a difference in the LGBT community,” said HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn. “Mother’s day is a great opportunity to showcase the important role that loving and supportive parents play whether they are LGBT or parents of an LGBT child. It was heartwarming to be a part of the Mother of the Year award contest.”
In selecting the “Mothers of the Year,” HRC’s panel of judges were looking for everyday moms (both straight and LGBT) who went above and beyond the call of motherhood to accept and support children, and moms who have persevered with family and parenting obligations in adverse situations, or in challenging conditions.
Look for HRC’s “Mothers of the Year” in the next issue of Equality magazine. You can also read about them at www.hrc.org/motheroftheyearand on the Back Story blog. The panel of judges for the “Mother of the Year” Award contest included Betty DeGeneres, HRC President Joe Solmonese and HRC Foundation Family Project Director Ellen Kahn.
Look for the HRC “Father of the Year” Award contest in the coming weeks.