Amazing Mom: Yolande Dumont
Yolande's Family: Husband: Julien, married 54 years; Kids: Michelle Reese, 51, Ronald, 50, Rene, 47, Raymond, 43
Yolande Lives In: Lewiston, Maine
Why Yolande Is Amazing: Yolande Dumont is decidedly a mother -- not an activist. But when her son asked her to support the Protect Maine Equality campaign, designed to encourage voters to approve same-sex marriage, the mother of four had to step up.Her loving description of her son's relationship with his partner and their adopted son became one of the cornerstone television ads in the fall 2009 campaign asking Maine voters not to overturn a law allowing gay marriage.
"When I get to talking about something I feel very strongly, I forget to be shy," she says. "I start speaking through the heart."
In the commercial, Yolande was filmed saying, "I've been a Catholic all my life. My faith means a lot to me. Marriage to me is a great institution that works, and it's what I want for my children, too."
When the ad started appearing, it created a stir within the Catholic community. Brian Burch, the president of the Chicago-based organization CatholicVoteAction.org, characterized it as 'shameless'.
He said the ad suggested that the Catholic Church does not support the traditionally recognized nature of marriage and called it "disingenuous, dishonest, and an insult to the intelligence of Catholic voters in Maine."
In the weeks leading up to the election, where voters ultimately repealed the law allowing same-sex marriage, Yolande and her husband Julien stopped attending services at the Catholic church.
"It's very hard. It hurts," she says. "I miss it."
But the couple felt unwelcome in church where leaders were asking priests to speak out against gay marriage. "I don't feel that I've done anything wrong," she says. "My faith is intact."
Yolande was surprised by how much positive reaction the commercial also received. Friends and family praised her efforts. She only received one hate letter.
Although she's not accustomed to the limelight, Yolande says she felt a duty to let others know how she felt about the issue and its impact on her family. She says she was proud to speak up for her youngest son because she loves him and his partner.
"Raymond is a good person. He's a hard worker. He's raising a family," she says. "I don't feel it's his choice that he's gay. I gave birth to those children. It was my responsibility to raise them and educate them and now I need to be there for them."
Yolande's Son Raymond Says: "She always made us feel strong enough to say exactly what we believe in."
Recognition: Yolande received a phone call from Maine Governor John E. Baldacci thanking her for the work she did on the Protect Maine Equity campaign. She also was recognized at the Equality Maine Annual Dinner.
Yolande's Guilty Pleasures: Friendly's pistachio ice cream and a nip of sherry after dinner.
Yolande's Best Advice: "It's very important to support your children. If your mother doesn't support you, who will?"
Related: Amazing Mom: Lisa Spicknall-Horner