Oh, this posting will be fun and sure to result in some debate. Often very powerful and influential political Lesbians are left off the usual national LGBT publications lists. No doubt many will question some of my choices and rankings. Others will question why a male is putting together such a list. You can have fun debating both of those points in the comments section.
To create this list, I eliminated anyone from the entertainment and sports community and focused totally on national politics and grassroots. So that leaves off such influential but not exclusively political heavy weights like Kate Clinton, Cynthia Nixon, Melissa Etheridge and Ellen DeGeneres. Some such as Nancy Sutley, who has a major position in the Obama team is lower in the list because she is not that active in LGBT issues or politics despite her powerful position.
There is no question that I most likely have left someone important off, made a mistake or failed to balance this list. Feel free to correct me in the comments section but please do it with civility. Ok, lets get to it:
1. Rachel Maddow: Who can argue with this influential and powerful commentator being number one? With her MSNBC perch, she reaches millions and doesn't shy away from being a Lesbian and covering LGBT stories. Her own journey is an amazing story and gives new definition to LGBT power.
2. Congresswomen Tammy Baldwin: Having been in Congress for a decade as an open Lesbian, she has developed a significant power base and respect in the United States House of Representatives. Representing Wisconsin's second district, she has become a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is a major point person in the House on LGBT legislation.
3. Hilary Rosen: Without a doubt, one of the most powerful behind the scenes political power brokers in Washington, DC. Rosen's list of friends reads like a "who's who" in American politics both in Washington and the entertainment industry. As a television commentator, she has earned the respect of many in the nation's capital. Is there anyone she doesn't know?
4. Pam Spaulding: Charismatic, kind and powerful are the words to describe Pam Spaulding. Her site, Pam'sHouseBlend.com, has become one of the most well-read and influential blogs in America. Quick with breaking stories, unapologetically liberal and a champion of Transgender rights, she is known for her lack of patience in freedom for LGBT people. Her influence will only grow.
5. Randi Weingarten: As president of the American Federation of Teachers, she is the most powerful open LGBT person in American labor. She is known to be a fierce advocate for her members and fighting for LGBT rights in the American labor movement.
6. Speaker Christine Quinn: If anyone understands power and change it is this Speaker of the New York City Council. For years she has created coalitions for change within the Council and with Mayor Bloomberg. Quinn is always there fighting for marriage equality, marching in Washington and has influence across the country because of work on LGBT rights.
7. Mayor Annise Parker: Who would have thought that Houston, Texas would elect an open Lesbian as mayor? After her stunning victory, she has moved quickly to consolidate power in the city including measures to protect LGBT rights. She can only grow stronger nationally as she moves out of her first year.
8. Rea Carey: As the only Lesbian heading the 'big three' national organizations (The Task Force) in Washington, she is known across the country. Working with grassroots has given her a vast LGBT network. The Task Force's Creating Change is a must-attend conference.
9. Urvashi Vaid: When you list the persons who are the 'conscience of the movement' you would have to put Urvashi at the top. As a foundation head, writer, activist and speaker, Vaid is one of the most respected citizens in America. She was one of the few older leaders who understood the importance of the National Equality March for the nation's youth. They have joined her fan club!
10. Dr. Marjorie Hill: As CEO/President of GMHC in New York City, Dr. Hill is one of the most prominent and respected leaders in fighting HIV/AIDS. She is, more than anyone, responsible for the push for a National AIDS strategy. When she speaks, people listen.
11. Kerry Eleveld : She is the LGBT community's 'voice in Washington. As a respected and talented journalist for over 15 years she has quickly risen to the top. With White House access, no one has covered the LGBT politics in Washington better than Kerry.
12. Robin McGehee: The first Proposition Eight generation on this list. McGeehee has already been arrested in front of the White House, co-founded and co-chaired "Get Equal" and is the new 'take no prisoners' school of organizing arising from the passage of Proposition Eight. She is a first rate organizer and extremely wonderful human being.
13. Torie Osborn: There would be no modern day LGBT movement without Torie Osborn. As former head of such organizations as The Task Force, Liberty Hill Foundation and The Center, she is one of our best organizers, writers and visionaries. She headed the California statewide campaign to successfully defeat Proposition 64 which would have quarantined people with HIV/AIDS in 1986.
14. Nancy Sutley: As Chairperson of President Obama's Council on Environmental Quality, she is one of the highest ranking open Lesbians in this administration.
15. Kate Kendell: As CEO of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Kendall has championed some of the pioneering legal legislation to protect Lesbians in America. She devoted endless hours in the attempt to defeat Proposition 8. Her network of Lesbian lawyers across America is impressive.
16. Sheila Kuehl: Pioneer, State Legislative leader, feminist and one of the most respected LGBT leaders in the country. Along with Vaid, she is listened to carefully and respected enormously. She tolerates no intolerance. Kuehl is a principled person with a great set of values.
17. Karen Ocamb: While her blog (LGBTPOV) is relatively new and mostly focused on California, she is one of the most distinguished journalists in our community. She is known for her 'scoops', tough questioning and seeing the 'insides' of a story.
18. Elizabeth Birch: As former CEO of the Human Rights Campaign, she still has a vast network of LGBT activists around the country. She is a talented businesswomen, writer and organizer. She changed the vision of HRC forever.
19. Lorri Jean: As CEO of The Center in Los Angeles, she has considerable power in that city and California. She was one of the leaders of the effort to repeal Proposition 8 and has been head of the National Task Force.
20. Coya Artichoker: A young Native American activist who despite being isolated in Rapid City, South Dakota, has already begun to leave her mark. Creating an organization known as "Sacred Circle" she has worked tirelessly to end violence against Native American women. Look for this young woman to be a major national player in the future