HRC Blog

HRC Celebrates Mothers’ Day and Recognizes “Mothers of the Year”

We received many submissions for our “Mother of the Year” award, meant to raise the visibility of all the amazing every day LGBT and ally moms across the country. With all of the nominations we received, there was no way we could pick just one “Mother of the Year.” HRC’s Family Project is proud to present “Mother of the Year Awards” to six of our nominees.

These moms are truly an inspiration – one lives on a military base and provides a safe haven for soldiers; another founded an online boutique for same-sex marriage ceremonies as her own daughter prepared to marry her partner. Others have committed their lives to raising their children in the face of daily adversity, such as health partners afflicting their partner.

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.

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