In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, you demanded that all Australians be allowed to have their love recognised, or if you didn’t, it takes 2 minutes! To inspire your joint activism this month (because what’s more romantic than that, right?), we’ve rounded up a list of seven inspirational couples working together to champion human rights.
1. Raif Badawi and Ensaf Haidar
It’s been over two years since blogger Raif Badawi was publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia for exercising his right to freedom of expression. During that time, activists worldwide – including over 37,000 Australians – have demanded his release from prison and condemned the brutal torture.
The loudest voice in the fight for justice is his wife, human rights defender Ensaf Haidar. Ensaf fled with their children to Canada in 2014 following his arrest and transformed her tiny flat into a campaign office for Raif’s release. Ensaf told The Telegraph, “I was very proud of him, I was pushing him to do it, I believe in free speech too. And all of this has taught me to be stronger and more responsible – I never thought I would have to be solely responsible for three children.”
2. David and Emma Pocock
David Pockock really has it all, a beautiful partner, a successful career in rugby and a strong moral compass, *swoon*. The Wallabies flanker uses his high profile for good and not evil – to speak out about important human rights issues, such as racial and gender equality and LGBTQI rights.
— AustralianStory (@AustralianStory) February 19, 2016
David and his partner Emma, also a prolific activist, are also big advocates of marriage equality and even though they were married in 2010, they refuse to sign the legal documents until all Australians have the same right. “I think for us it’s something we don’t really want to be part of, if all of our friends don’t have that same opportunity if they want to get married,” he told SBS.
3. George and Amal Alamuddin Clooney
New York magazine branded The Clooneys the closest thing the US has to royalty, and we’re pretty happy that these two champions of human rights aren’t leaving the spotlight anytime soon – particularly with the recent announcement of two more Clooneys to be added to the clan. Amal, a Lebanese-British human rights lawyer and activist has handled many high-profile cases in her illustrious career, including Ukranian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.
— USA TODAY Tech (@usatodaytech) September 20, 2016
Good looks, talent and charm aren’t the only strings to George’s bow, he also founded Not On Our Watch with his Ocean’s 11 co-stars Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, and producer Jerry Weintraub, which has a goal of ending the genocide in Sudan. Following their highly-publicised wedding, the couple donated proceeds from the sale of the official photos to various human rights charities.
4. Ellen De Generes and Portia De Rossi
When it comes to power couples, you can’t get much more influential than Talk-show Queen Ellen De Generes and Australian actress Portia De Rossi. Both strong advocates of marriage equality, Ellen recently opened up to People magazine, saying of her marriage to Portia: “There’s no best part. It’s everything. I can’t imagine not being married. I have my best friend, the person I want to spend time with more than anybody else in the world.”
"Love is a meeting of two souls fully accepting the dark and the light within each other." pic.twitter.com/g6gRvFsbNP
— Ellen and Portia DeGeneres (@epdegeneres) January 29, 2017
The couple are not only incredibly adorable (see above!), but also donate millions to a raft of charity organisations, which landed Ellen with the crown of “favorite humanitarian” at the People’s Choice Awards in 2016.
5. Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle
Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs don’t have your typical ‘boy meets girl’ love story. The couple, who married in 2012, share the tragic history of facing death row for the murder of two police officers – Sunny in Florida and Peter in Dublin. Both were eventually cleared of the crimes they were charged with and released, but not after losing over a decade of their lives in prison.
— Dr Hannah Quirk (@HannahQuirk1) January 25, 2017
The two met in 1998 when Sunny was campaigning against the death penalty for Amnesty in Ireland. Peter sat in the front row, entranced. The two were eventually to come together and dedicate their lives to human rights. “Life has turned out beautifully,” Peter told The Guardian. “Sure, it’s not without its difficulties. We have no money. But we do good work. We are at peace. And we have a great life together. We look forward, and we live in the moment.”
6. Waleed Aly and Susan Carland
When asked how she feels about being dubbed the ‘Muslim power couple’, Dr Susan Carland told SBS: “It’s bizarre, we’re not even remotely powerful!” But Susan and her husband, lawyer and talk-show host Waleed Aly are as influential as they come. In 2015, Susan started a campaign to expose Islamophobia online and turn it into a “force for good” by donating $1 to charity for every hateful tweet she received.
Her hubby of 15 years, Waleed Aly uses the rather large platform of The Project to speak out about important human rights issues such as refugee rights, domestic violence and racism. Now there’s a couple we’d like to have at a dinner party!
7. Mildred and Richard Loving
Richard and Mildred Loving, who inspired the 2016 film Loving, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, were an interracial couple married in Washington D.C. in 1958. They were arrested five weeks later in Virginia, where their union was not legal, and forced to leave or be jailed. In 1967, Mildred wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert. F. Kennedy, who referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union. The couple, who were assigned a junior lawyer, found themselves in a legal battle that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In a huge victory for equal rights, judges voted unanimously in the couple’s favour. *Plot spoiler* Tragically, eight years after their marriage, Richard died in a car accident.
— Loving (@lovingthefilm) February 9, 2017
On the 40th anniversary of the ruling, Mildred said in a statement, “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”