Amid a year full of anti-LGBT rhetoric from people, organizations and businesses (One Million Moms, Chick-fil-A, and Kirk Cameron, among others, spring immediately to our minds), there were many remarkable, brave -- and touching -- moments from our straight allies who have spoken up and reached out to show that our fight for equality is one that is hugely important to them, too.
So, to thank and recognize our straight allies, take a look at our slideshow of the best statements and moments from them in 2012 and be sure to let us know what other incredible, heartfelt ally moments stood out to you in our comments section below.
Barack Obama Endorses Marriage Equality
In an unprecedented and historic event, President Obama became the first sitting president to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/obama-gay-marriage_n_1503245.html">affirm his support for same-sex marriage</a>, when he made his announcement on national television to ABC's Robin Roberts. Obama's proclamation came soon after North Carolina voted in favor of an amendment that defines marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman and at the heels of Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying they support marriage equality as well.
Football Players Brendon Ayanbadejo And Chris Kluwe Voice Support For LGBT Rights And Marriage Equality
In a world that's often seen as homophobic, there's perhaps no greater influential voice for LGBT support than when it comes from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/straight-pro-athletes-allies-lgbt-rights_n_1891616.html">straight male athletes</a>. What started with Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo (who's been a long-time LGBT rights supporter) donating Ravens tickets to Marylanders for Marriage Equality, and drawing <a href="http://www.wbaltv.com/news/politics/Delegate-unhappy-with-Ravens-player-s-support-of-same-sex-marriage/-/9379266/16487740/-/mro08gz/-/index.html?absolute=true">criticism from Baltimore County Delegate Emmett Burns Jr. in late August</a>, turned into another national headlining story. Burns's letter caused fellow NFL star Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe to lash out <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-kluwe/an-open-letter-to-emmett-burns_b_1866216.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">at Burns</a> in a letter of his own. Click the links above to read the full stories.
Brad Pitt Donates $100,000 To HRC's Gay Marriage Campaign
Brad Pitt (along with his beau, Angelina Jolie) has always been a fervent ally for the LGBT community. In October, just before the general election where four states would vote on the issue, the Hollywood A-lister gave <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/brad-pitt-hrc-gay-marriage-campaign-donation-_n_2049092.html">$100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign's National Marriage Fund</a>. "It's unbelievable to me that people's lives and relationships are literally being voted on in a matter of days," Pitt is quoted as saying on the HRC website. "In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, voters will go to the polls to decide if gay and lesbian couples -- our friends and neighbors -- are worthy of the same protections as everyone else."
Starbucks Supports Marriage Equality In Washington State
After a year full of anti-gay Chick-fil-A stories, we at least had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/25/starbucks-same-sex-marriage-washington-_n_1231047.html">Starbucks in our corner</a> the whole time. In January, the world's largest coffeehouse chain, which is based in Seattle, came out in support of marriage equality in its home state. Starbucks Executive Vice President Kalen Holmes issued a statement that read: "Starbucks is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples ... This important legislation is aligned with Starbucks business practices and upholds our belief in the equal treatment of partners. It is core to who we are and what we value as a company."
CNN's Carol Costello Kicks Bryan Fischer Off Show For Spewing Anti-Gay Hatred
When the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer was on CNN's "Newsroom" in October, he offered his usual anti-gay rhetoric, claiming that Hitler recruited homosexual soldiers because they had "no limit to the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whoever Hitler would send them after." He went on to say that there are "known health risks" associated with homosexuality, which prompted <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/cnn-carol-costello-bryan-fischer-anti-gay-hatred_n_1970751.html">Carol Costello to stop Fischer</a>. "I'm going to end this interview right here, because that's just not true," Costello said, interrupting Fischer. "I'm sorry, that's just not true. Mr. Fischer, thanks for sharing your views, I guess."
Kelly Clarkson Endorses Obama, Citing President's Gay Marriage Stance
Pop diva sensation Kelly Clarkson, who once voiced her support for GOP candidate Ron Paul and claimed she was a "Republican at heart," said that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/kelly-clarkson-endorses-obama-gay-marriage-stance_n_2006018.html">she would vote for Obama</a> because of his pro-LGBT views. Clarkson, who's originally from Texas, told the <em>Daily Star</em>: “I’ve been reading online about the debates and I’m probably going to vote for Obama again... I can’t support Romney’s policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married."
Zach Wahls Speaks At DNC Convention
Zach Wahls became a household name in February 2011 when the 19-year-old son of two lesbian moms <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/03/zach-wahls-defends-gay-ma_n_818194.html">spoke in front of the Iowa House of Representatives</a> when it was hearing testimonies on a resolution that would end civil unions in the Midwestern state. Since that touching speech over a year ago, <a href="http://www.zachwahls.com">Wahls</a> has become a prominent ally and activist for the LGBT community. This year, Wahls, founder of <a href="http://www.scoutsforequality.com">Scouts for Equality</a>, urged Intel to end funding to the Boy Scouts of America, who reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays and he spoke at the Democratic National Convention proclaiming, "Mr. Romney, my family is <em>just</em> as real as yours."
Intel Ceases Funding To The Boy Scouts Of America
When the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from joining its ranks in July, Intel, the BSA's largest corporate funder, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/22/intel-stops-boy-scout-don_n_1905856.html">stopped donating to the youth organization</a>. Intel, who reportedly gave more than $700,000 to the boy scouts in 2010, came under pressure from LGBT rights organizations, including Scouts for Equality founded by Zach Wahls. The young activist garnered more than 30,000 signatures on a change.org petition, urging the corporation to cease funding.
Macklemore And Ryan Lewis Release "Same Love" Video
Seattle-based rapper Macklemore, along with producer Ryan Lewis, released their song, "Same Love," in July in support of marriage equality. "It was not easy to write," Macklemore said in a <a href="http://macklemore.com/post/27481163762/this-song-which-i-wrote-in-april-is-a-response">blog post</a> about the song. "I struggled with how I, as a straight male, could genuinely speak upon this issue." After a Michigan teacher was suspended for allowing a student to play the song in class in November (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/susan-johnson-michigan-teacher-gay-song-suspension-reversed_n_2237217.html">she was later reinstated</a>), Macklemore <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/30/macklemore-susan-johnson-same-love-gay-song-_n_2218715.html">wrote on his blog</a> that the suspension was "completely out of line and unjust."
Two Straight Women Kiss In Front Of Anti-Gay Protesters In France
Two straight women <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/two-women-kiss-in-front-of-protests_n_2009616.html">caught the world's attention in October</a> when they kissed in front of an anti-gay protest in France. The women explained that their lip-lock was a simple act to draw attention to gay marriage and they wanted it to be seen as a symbol of support and solidarity. Several French cities were holding protests against a bill that would allow gay marriage and adoption in the Western European country. The photo, which was taken in Marseille, quickly went viral with over 1,500 retweets on Twitter in just a few hours.
San Francisco 49ers Join "It Gets Better" Campaign
The San Francisco 49ers became the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/24/san-francisco-49ers-it-gets-better-campaign-_n_1828488.html">first NFL team to make a video</a> for the "It Gets Better Project." Other sports teams who have made videos include L.A. Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and the San Francisco Giants.
Gay Pride Oreo
America's beloved cookie had an amazing -- and gay -- year. After celebrating its <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/28/business/media/the-oreo-turns-100-with-a-nod-to-the-past-advertising.html?_r=0">100th birthday</a> in March, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/oreo-backlash-companies-anti-gay-boycott_n_1634767.html">Oreo came out in support for LGBT Pride Month</a> when Kraft released a rainbow-filled Oreo ad in June, which was heralded by LGBT-rights advocates especially coming from an iconic family-friendly cookie. "As a company, Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness," said a spokesperson for Kraft. "We feel the Oreo ad is a fun reflection of our values."
Sally Field Receives The HRC's Ally For Equality Award
"We love you, Sally! We really love you!" In October, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/sally-field-hrc-award-speech-gay-son_n_1948110.html">Human Rights Campaign awarded Sally Field with its "Ally for Equality Award"</a>and the veteran actress delivered a heartwarming speech in which she spoke about her own gay son. One quote from her speech truly went viral: "You've changed and are changing the lives of little boys and girls who realize somewhere along the way they're just different from their other brothers and sisters...and so the f**k what?"
Black Clergy And NAACP Lend Voice To Marriage Equality
After President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, prominent black pastors -- such as <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/maryland-politics/post/rev-sharpton-black-clergy-urge-support-of-md-same-sex-marriage-referendum/2012/09/21/53ca94a2-0436-11e2-91e7-2962c74e7738_blog.html">Rev. Al Sharpton</a> and Rev. Jesse <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/jesse-jackson-dnc-maryland-gay-marriage_n_1880535.html">Jackson</a> -- lent their support as well. Within a week of Obama's declaration, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/us/politics/naacp-endorses-same-sex-marriage.html">board of the NAACP voted to endorse same-sex marriage</a>, lending the prominent group's influential voice to a controversial issue in the black community.
Ben Cohen Poses In Underwear To Benefit His StandUp Foundation
One very active <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/14/sports/two-straight-athletes-combat-homophobia.html?pagewanted=all">straight ally is Ben Cohen</a>, an English rugby World Cup champion, who retired from the sport to start <a href="http://www.standupfoundation.com/">The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation</a>. The organization “supports organizations, programs and people that advance equality for the LGBT community and help for at-risk youth by standing up against bullying.” This year, Cohen surely made his many gay fans happy when he stripped down to his underwear to benefit his foundation. He <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/ben-cohen-strips-for-equa_n_1747838.html">spoke with Huffington in August</a> saying, “No one should have to tolerate that [bullying], no matter what your sexual orientation, the color of your skin, your size or the color of your hair is.”
Joe Biden Says He Supports Marriage Equality
When the Vice President was asked in May on NBC's "Meet The Press" if his views on same-sex marriage have evolved <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/vice-president-biden-gay-marriage_n_1489235.html">he answered</a>: "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties."
Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Donates Unprecedented $2.5 Million Toward Marriage Equality
Jeff Bezos, the founder of the world's largest online retailer, Amazon, and his wife, MacKenzie, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/jeff-bezos-gay-marriage_n_1709052.html">gave $2.5 million in July</a> to defending Washington state's same-sex marriage law. The unprecedented donation instantly made Bezos, whose estimated worth according to Forbes is $18.4 billion, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/27/news/la-jc-jeff-bezos-pledges-2-point-5-million-to-help-samesex-marriage-in-wa-20120727">one of the largest financial backers of marriage quality</a>.
Hip-Hop Artists Rally Behind Frank Ocean
After acknowledging he had a relationship with another man, Frank Ocean garnered support from a handful of other hip-hop artists, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Russell Simmons. "[The support for Frank is] an extension of the overall kind of support we’re seeing across the country for LGBT people, and not just in a broad sense, but specifically from iconic members of the black community," said Daryl Hannah, director of media and community partnerships for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “There is still a very nasty streak of homophobia in this country that we have to overcome,” Simmons, a founder and former owner of the Def Jam label, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/arts/music/frank-ocean-draws-praise-for-declaring-his-homosexuality.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0">told The New York Times</a>. “I’m hoping the support by his friends and the members of the creative community will override it and, whatever he loses, he will gain more.”
Congressmen And Women Pose For NOH8
There were 26 congressmen and women who came out in support of marriage equality by participating in the second "NOH8 on the Hill" event on Sept. 13. They joined 10 other members of Congress who were a part of the first round of photographs in February. Read the full story and see the photos <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurence-watts/noh8-on-the-hill_b_1955382.html#slide=more255708">here</a>.
Jesse Ventura And His Wife Endorse Marriage Equality
The sports-entertainment world of wrestling has had its fair share of homophobic culture in the news. Though there have been anti-gay remarks made by <a href="http://www.cagesideseats.com/2011/3/25/2071241/glaad-forces-wwe-and-john-cena-to-knock-off-the-homophobic-jokes">John Cena</a>, <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2011/07/04/cm-punk-wwe-wrestler-wrestling-homo-homophobic-slur-australia/">CM Punk</a> and <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2011/03/wwe-commentator-.html">Michael Cole</a>, Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor and wrestler, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/jesse-ventura-vote-no-minnesota-governor-pro-wrestler-same-sex-marriage-antigay-amendment_n_1884626.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">offered his support to the marriage equality fight in September</a>. Ventura, who appears alongside his wife, Terry, in a video for "<a href="http://mnunited.org">Minnesotans United for All Families</a>," an initiative asking voters to say no to the 2012 constitutional amendment that defined marriage is being between a man and a woman said, "Government should not be telling people who to fall in love with."
Leon Panetta, James Amos Support DADT's Repeal
It's been over a year since the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but continued support for the decision poured in from top leaders this year, including Defense Secretary <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/leon-panetta-gay-troops-pride-month-dadt_n_1599642.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular">Leon Panetta</a> and head of the U.S. Marine Corps <a href="http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/08/28/top-u-s-marine-openly-gay-servicemembers-not-an-issue/">James Amos</a>. Amos, who first opposed the repeal of DADT, revealed openly gay servicemembers haven’t been an issue, saying, “I’m very pleased with how it’s turned out. I’m very proud of the Marines.”
Madonna Continues Her LGBT Support
It's been quite a year for the material girl. Madonna released her 12th album, "MDNA," had the <a href="http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/98653/Madonnas-Ninth-World-Tour-MDNA-Highest-Grossing-Of-2012-With-141-Million">highest grossing concert tour</a> of 2012 and headlined the Super Bowl. But besides that, Madge continued her fierce support of the LGBT community. She was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/madonna-lawsuit-russia-gay-rights_n_2176566.html">threatened with a lawsuit</a> when she gave a gay rights speech in St. Petersburg, urged people to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/madonna-obama-black-muslim_n_1912400.html">vote for Obama</a>) and appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's show where the comic revealed how Madonna comforted her when DeGeneres was going to come out of the closet.
Morgan Freeman Lends His Inimitable Voice To HRC's 'Dawn Of A New Day For Marriage Equality' Video
After marriage equality wins in this year's general election, there's still more work -- and urging -- to be done. Morgan Freeman lent his iconic voice to the Human Rights Campaign, proclaiming in a promotional video, "Freedom, justice and human dignity have always guided our journey toward a more perfect union" and that the road to full marriage equality has just begun.
Phil Snider, Missouri Pastor, Gives Anti-Gay Rights Speech With Surprise Twist Ending
Many pastors who have delivered anti-gay speeches this year, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/21/phil-snider-missouri-pastor-anti-gay-rights-speech-surprise_n_1997036.html">and Rev. Phil Snider of the Brentwood Christian Church seemed to deliver one of his own</a> at the Springfield City Council hearing on the city's nondiscrimination ordinance, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the areas of employment, public housing and accommodations. But, in a surprise twist ending, Snider's anti-gay rhetoric was only an act. Snider explained that he borrowed his arguments from the "wrong century," getting confused by the arguments against racial integration made by white pastors in the '50s and '60s. Snider implored the council to not make the same mistakes as those pastors and to be on the right side of history.
Mayors Refuse Business From Chick-Fil-A
Boston <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/chick-fil-a-gay_n_1689800.html">Mayor Thomas Menino</a> told the Boston Herald that he doesn't support a business "that discriminates against a population." Menino's comments caused controversy as many believed that even if Chick-fil-A is guilty of being anti-gay, it should not, in a free country and market, be barred from operating its business. Rahm Emanuel and Edwin M. Lee, mayors of Chicago and San Francisco, respectively, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/us/taking-sides-on-chick-fil-a-is-a-temptation-few-can-resist.html">shared Menino's sentiments</a>.
Janet Jackson Producing Transgender Documentary
Janet Jackson announced in June that she would be the executive producer (and conduct some on-screen interviews) for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/janet-jackson-truth-transgender-documentary_n_1570667.html">"Truth," a documentary about transgender people</a> around the world, which started filming this summer. "All people are very important to me. I've been fortunate to make friends and learn about very different lives," Jackson said. "'Truth' is our small chance to ask that you try and understand someone who lives their life in a way that is a little bit different from yours, even though all of our hearts are the same. We want to stop the hate and find understanding."
Arne Duncan Throws His Support Behind Same-Sex Marriage
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan followed Joe Biden's lead in May, saying that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/arne-duncan-gay-marriage_n_1495224.html">he supports marriage equality</a>. Duncan, who was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," became the second cabinet secretary to endorse marriage equality after Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan did in November 2011.
Mariela Castro Discusses Transgender Health Issues In San Francisco
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, paid a visit to San Francisco in May for a prestigious academic conference. <a href="ttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/mariela-castro-transgender-talk_n_1538854.html">Castro, who is a fierce LGBT-rights activist</a> who has vouched for same-sex marriages in Cuba and worked to have gender confirmation surgeries covered under the Cuban health plan, also attended meetings on transgender health care at the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital.
CollegeHumor Releases "Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends" Video
Our friends at CollegeHumor (perhaps unknowingly) created one of the year's most viral internet memes in November with its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/college-humor-gay-men-will-marry-your-girlfriends-video_n_2117777.html">"Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends" video, which was captioned, "We support gay marriage. Here's why you should too."</a> The gay guys' argument for why straight men should be worried about gay men marrying their girlfriends if gay marriage isn't legalized? They'll make quiches with a side of hummus for breakfast and take her to a Broadway show. What gal wouldn't want that?