WASHINGTON - April 14 - On Tuesday, May 4, 2004 from 6:30-8:30 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will present the 15th annual Leadership Awards. This year's honorees are Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian congresswoman and the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives from Wisconsin; Mary Bonauto, co-counsel in the case establishing civil unions in Vermont and lead counsel in the case establishing equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Massachusetts; and, Equality Fairfax, an organization dedicated to achieving equality by educating and informing Fairfax County residents and business, religious and community leaders on the needs, concerns and contributions of their LGBT neighbors.
"We are incredibly proud to be honoring such amazing people," said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. "Their commitment to promoting and securing LGBT equality and educating the public about issues of vital importance to our community is to be commended, and we can't thank them enough."
Throughout her career Tammy Baldwin has run for public office as an out lesbian. In November 1998, Tammy Baldwin was elected to Congress -- the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives from Wisconsin, and the first out gay or lesbian elected to Congress as a non-incumbent. She is a leading advocate for health care reform, preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, and increased support for public education, including financial aid for higher education. Tammy Baldwin is a forceful supporter of civil rights and an advocate for those in our society whose voices, too often, are not heard. She has been a leader in Congress in opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Baldwin is a lead sponsor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act; an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Permanent Partners Immigration Act; and a tireless advocate for AIDS funding at the federal level.
As the Civil Rights Director for the New England-wide Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) since 1990, Mary Bonauto has worked on nearly every facet of the legal movement for equality under law for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals. She has litigated widely in the state and federal courts and agencies of the six New England states for over fourteen years. In 2003, she served as lead counsel in the landmark case, Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court ruled in favor of seven same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. Four years earlier, in 1999, she and two Vermont co-counsel won a ruling that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the benefits and protections of civil marriage in the case of Baker v. State of Vermont. This ruling prompted the Vermont legislature to enact the nation's first-ever "civil union" law for same-sex couples. She has participated widely in litigation establishing precedents of respect for same-sex families as families. She served as appellate counsel for a lesbian mother in E.N.O. v. L.M.M. resulting in a 1999 Massachusetts high court ruling recognizing the parental rights of "de facto" parents, and has been involved in similar cases in NH, RI and VT. She represented lesbian parents in a precedent setting (1993) case establishing joint adoption rights for same-sex parents in the Massachusetts and was also involved in similar cases in Vermont and Connecticut. She helps people advocate for domestic partner benefits in their workplaces and has litigated the issue as well. Mary has targeted criminal laws and police practices that single out gay people for harsh treatment. She served as co-counsel in a challenge to the colonial-era Massachusetts sodomy laws and participated in a similar RI case.
Equality Fairfax was established to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the county of Fairfax, Virginia. Equality Fairfax strives to meet its goal through dialog, visibility, charitable endeavors and civic involvement; all efforts aim to achieve equality by educating and informing Fairfax County residents and business, religious and community leaders on the needs, concerns and contributions of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender neighbors. A key strength of Equality Fairfax is their vigorous nonpartisan issues advocacy that ensures LGBT voices are an integral part of the local and state government decision-making process.
Photos of Mary Bonauto and Tammy Baldwin are available by calling the Task Force communications office at 323.857.8751.
Past Leadership Award honorees include: civil rights activist Coretta Scott King; Senator Ted Kennedy; Kelly and Rosie O'Donnell; Ambassador Michael Guest and his partner Alexander Nevarez; film producer Bruce Cohen; comedian Margaret Cho; actors Mathew St. Patrick, Alec Mapa and Wilson Cruz; The Advocate's first female editor-in-chief Judy Wieder; advocates for transgender equality, Calpernia Addams and Earline Budd; writer/producer David Lee; adoptive parents Roger Croteau and Steven Lofton; DC Black Pride; and The Indigo Girls. SAVE THE DATE!
Tuesday, May 4, 2004 from 6:30-9:30
National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005-3970
A celebration to pay tribute to community leaders, allies and groups who fight for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people through their leadership, advocacy and action.
Sponsorship/Ticket levels from $5,000 to $125. Silent auction and hors d'oeuvres reception included.
All proceeds benefit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation.
For more information or to purchase tickets go to: http://www.thetaskforce.org/events
For questions, contact National Events Manager Clayton Yeung at cyeung@TheTaskForce.org or (202) 393-5177 ext. 8742.