[I've updated this post based on reader comments. Thanks to all, and keep the ideas coming. It's good to see so many lesbian moms who have achieved such success—though I'll quickly add that this is a personal choice. It's just as acceptable to choose to stay home with one's children, or forgo career advancement for the sake of one's family. For those who strive to achieve in both career and family, however, these moms are inspirational.]
Out magazine recently published their list of “The Power 50: The Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America.” Despite my criticisms of the list—too white, too male, too willing to expose those not officially out of the closet—it got me thinking: If we were to assemble a list of the most powerful lesbian moms in America, who would we choose?
The definition of “power” is subjective, of course. For the purposes of this list, I consider it to mean someone who would be known by a large cross-section of the population, outside the lesbian community (whether or not they know she is a lesbian mom), and who is either at or near the top of her chosen profession or whose actions have the power to start a media debate. I’m including the names of partners, even if one partner is not as well known, in order to acknowledge the contributions of both moms to their households.
In alphabetic, not rank, order (by last name of one partner):
- Elizabeth Birch, former head of HRC, and Hilary Rosen, political commentator and former head of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA). No longer together as of a month ago, but still parents to their children.
- Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of The L Word
- Mary Cheney, AOL executive, political campaigner, and vice-presidential daughter, and Heather Poe. Not officially moms yet, but soon to be, and contributing strongly to awareness of our families, for better or worse.
- Cat Cora, “Iron Chef,” and Jennifer (last name and profession unknown)
- Karla Drenner, Georgia State Representative, and partner (name and profession unknown)
- Melissa Etheridge, singer, and Tammy Lynn Michaels, actor
- Cheryl Jacques, political commentator, former head of HRC, and former Massachusetts State Senator, and Jennifer Chrisler, head of the Family Pride Coalition
- Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Sandy Holmes
- Cynthia Nixon, actor, and Christine Marinoni, education activist
- Rosie O’Donnell, television personality, and Kelli Carpenter, marketing executive and founder of r family vacations.
- Kara Swisher, Wall Street Journal columnist, and Megan Smith, Google executive
- Sheryl Swoopes, basketball player, and Alisa Scott, former basketball player and coach
- Linda Villarosa, freelance writer and editor, former editor of the New York Times and former executive editor of Essence Magazine, and Jana Welch, marketing executive
Anyone I missed? Can anyone fill in gaps in the information? Leave a comment.
Of course, the thing about motherhood is that your kids always think you’re the most powerful moms in the world, and it’s their opinions that really matter.
(For more on Out’s list, see the column by Sarah Warn at AfterEllen.)