Celebs and VIPs including Jane Lynch, Anne Hathaway and Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the "Say I Do" campaign Monday with a letter to President Obama asking him for clarity on the topic of same-sex marriage and urging him to support an end to "exclusion from marriage."
The campaign will continue until Obama expresses his support, according to Freedom to Marry, the group behind the effort.
Other signers from the entertainment ranks include actors Eric McCormack, Martin Sheen, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner and Portia DeGeneres, musicians Melissa Etheridge, Mya and Rufus Wainwright, playwright Tony Kushner, and studio honchos Bob Wright, with wife Susan, and David Geffen, The Times has learned exclusively.
Tech VIPs signing their names along with those of civil rights leaders and other activists include Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, Chris Hughes of Facebook, Sean Parker of Napster and Mark Pincus of Zynga, along with athletes Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita of the NFL.
"My wife and I were married in May of 2010, and I can say without a doubt that marriage matters," Lynch said in connection with the letter, which will be delivered to the White House by same-sex couples and families this spring.
"As President Obama continues his journey toward recognizing our right to equal taxation, protection and dignity under the law, I encourage him to listen to gay and lesbian couples and families so he can better understand how marriage equality affects us all."
Lynch and Lara Embry got hitched in Massachusetts, one of five states -- plus the District of Columbia -- where same-sex couples can marry. Ellen DeGeneres married Portia de Rossi locally in 2008, during the window when same-sex marriage was legal in California. De Rossi has since changed her name to Portia DeGeneres.
Kushner and editor-writer Mark Harris, another signatory, had a commitment ceremony in New York in 2003 and planned to be wed in California in 2008, but ultimately tied the knot that year in Massachusetts. Tomlin is not married to Wagner, her partner since 1971, but said in February that although it's not her thing, "I certainly want anybody in the gay community to marry if they wish to."
"In law, in love, in life, marriage says 'we are family' in a way that nothing else does," the letter reads. "Marriage is the coming together of two lives, marked by a public promise of love and responsibility in front of friends and family. And marriage brings not only public respect and personal significance, but also a safety net of legal protections, rights, and responsibilities for which there is no substitute."
A Pew Research Institute poll released the first week of March shows, among those expressing an opinion, about equal numbers for and against same-sex marriage, a significant change from 2-to-1 opposition a decade ago. In the West and Northeast, a majority of people give it the thumbs-up, the poll said.
In addition to the letter, the "Say I Do" campaign will spotlight stories of same-sex couples and their family members across a variety of media, organizers said.
Updated at 10:40 a.m., March 14: This post originally neglected to mention the District of Columbia as a spot in the U.S. where same-sex marriage is licensed. Thanks to commenter @Fabrisse for the reminder.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Upper photo: Jane Lynch and Lara Embry. Credit: Craig Barritt / Getty Images
Middle photo: Tony Kushner. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times
Lower photo: Portia and Ellen DeGeneres, lower left. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times