The month of March begins my fifth year of writing for the Coaster.  Thank you, dear reader, for investing part of your week in this paper.  Ellen, Mike, Doris and the entire team work hard to deliver you the local news you want.

I also want to thank Howard Stern for giving me my start.  He taught me to know my audience and gave me pride in my accomplishments as I entered the workforce years ago.

Many people do not realize how big a gay advocate Howard Stern and co-host Robin Quivers (not pictured) are.

Nowadays, Stern is getting some slack about an issue that happens to be especially close to me – his positive stance on gay rights.

And what is important for me, for you to know is that Stern has always been an advocate for gay rights.  Before same sex marriage became the call-to-action buzz word in politics, Stern was a positive force, dedicating hours of influential airtime to the lobby for equality.

And it’s scary-bad out there.  When our area’s Assemblywoman is absent last month the day same-sex marriage is voted on and in 2009 when our state senator votes “no” to marriage equality, we have a big problem in our backyard.

Stern recently threatened JCPenny with a boycott if the company bowed to pressure and cancelled its contract with Ellen DeGeneres and regularly calls-out politicians like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum for their stance on women’s issues and gay rights.

“It’s deplorable and despicable what conservatives are doing to the gay community,” said Stern on a recent Sirius XM satellite radio broadcast (listen to his statement here). “Gay people should not be marginalized or have to justify their existence in 2012. There are miserable, vomitus people out there that need to be stopped. Anybody who has a happy life wouldn’t think about who a gay person loves.”

And Stern has said he is embarrassed for our country when he has to address this issue: “I should not have to do the right thing.  I should not have to talk about this issue.  I know it means something to the gay community to hear these words from straight people and we should all be vocal… gay rights should not be an issue in 2012 but it is and we need to change that. Straight people need to show their support.”

Rosie O’Donnell spoke to her television audience recently about Stern’s comments.

“Howard talks about gays in a way that will move you,” said O’Donnell.  “He articulates the issues to straight people in a way that is more digestible to them.”

In the 1990’s, each time Stern joked with me on his morning radio show or late night E! Entertainment television show, he was showing his mostly macho 20 million-plus audience that gay people deserved equal rights.

A letter I received in 2009 from a Stern fan sums up Stern’s impact on the gay community. After watching Stern and I on the E! show (in 1999), the twenty-something fan wrote:

“I knew at some point in that half hour, there was a realization that maybe there was a possibility I could have that acceptance that Howard showed you. Here was this amazing man, Howard Stern, one of the people that I respected and admired the most telling me that I was okay. I know he was telling you but he was speaking to me. I deserved to be free, even though I did not know what that meant at the time.”

Today, the world is seeing more than ever what a feeling, compassionate, smart, strategic and eloquent straight advocate for gay rights Stern is.

He deserves a GLAAD Media Award and has my vote.  I am so thankful we have him on our very gay side.

Listen to one 12 minute clip of Howard Stern talking about gay rights and “lonely soccer moms with too much time on their hands.”  It’s empowering.

And visit HowardStern.com for the latest on the King of All Media.  Subscribe to Sirius XM.  But be prepared for the worst ongoing customer service – way beyond your cable company.  Ultimately, its worth it, though.