Virginians Leading LGBT Equality Honored April 6

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2013 Kevin Clay | [email protected] | 804.643.4816 Equality Virginia Recognizes OUTstanding Virginians at Gala Feat. Cory Booker RICHMOND, VA – On Saturday, April 6, Equality Virginia recognizes seven Virginians committed to moving the LGBT community forward at its 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.  The event is the state’s largest black-tie gala gathering for the Virginia LGBT community and supporters and features special guest Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker. Since 2009, Equality Virginia has honored OUTstanding Virginians at the annual event, but this year is the first in the organization’s history it is honoring allies in addition to outspoken LGBT community leaders. 2013’s honorees include: Viola Baskerville (Advocate, Richmond) She has served as Richmond councilwoman, Vice Mayor, state Delegate and Secretary of Administration—Throughout Viola Baskerville’s time as a public servant, civil rights were a central part of her agenda.  One of her first votes was for a resolution in response to a rash of hate crimes in the city. The resolution specifically included sexual orientation as a category of prohibited discrimination. Ted Heck (Activist, Richmond) Ted’s commitment to social justice and anti-violence has dovetailed with his career in public health through the Virginia Department of Health.  As part of this work, he coordinates the efforts of VDH and the Transgender Advisory Group of the Virginia HIV Community Planning Group.  Growing up a female-bodied person who had always identified as male, Ted’s personal journey has given him a special perspective on the needs of the LGBTQ community. He believes his understanding of the special situation of sexual minorities has contributed to his success within the public health system. Guy M. Kinman, Jr. (Billboard Pioneer, Richmond) Guy Kinman initiated the Billboard Project to raise visibility for the gay and lesbian community with billboards placed throughout Richmond.  The 95-year old former Air Force chaplain and pioneering gay rights leader doesn’t believe in limiting oneself to a label. “I thought then that only if every last gay or lesbian declared themselves would we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin. But now I see the lasting change came about because we didn’t need to explain who we were—just to work, play, be in our churches and our interest groups—just to live.” Congressman Jim Moran (Politician, Northern Virginia) Congressman Moran has been a long- standing ally of the LGBT community, dating back to his efforts as Mayor of Alexandria to prohibit discrimination of city employees. He is a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Our Own (Publishers, Hampton Roads) At its peak, the Hampton Roads paper was a primary source of news for gay and lesbian issues and had a circulation of 12,000, with readers in all 50 states and 40 countries around the world. Our Own covered major Virginia stories, such as witch hunts at the Norfolk Navy Base, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hearings, and the arrest of prominent gay clergyman/author Mel White for trespassing when he tried to speak with Pat Robertson at the televangelist’s CBN Broadcast Center. Charlotte J. Patterson (Researcher, Charlottesville) University of Virginia Psychology Professor Charlotte J. Patterson’s research on the emotional health of children in same-sex households has dispelled the misconception that heterosexual parents are a prerequisite for children to grow up happy and well adjusted.   Her work has contributed to precedent setting court decisions and has been cited in amicus briefs for two current Supreme Court cases concerning marriage equality. Gregg Smith (Community Activist  & Philanthropist) Like so many promising service members, Gregg Smith’s Navy career was cut short by his sexuality. Unlike many, though, he was treated with respect and not pressured to inform on fellow sailors.   Without regret, Gregg immediately took a position with the financial planning company Ameriprise and is now a franchise owner. Through his work, he develops seminars and workshops specifically for clients in same-sex partnerships and is able to support local HIV-AIDS service organizations and pride events.  He is invested in causes including Equality Virginia, Human Rights Campaign Fund and the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network and has personally hosted and participated in many fundraisers supporting local organizations, as well.

In addition to celebrating the OUTstanding Virginians, the Commonwealth Dinner will feature a keynote delivered by Mayor Booker.   Booker is a rising political star known for his innovative ideas, bold actions, and longtime support of LGBT equality. He has been named TIME’s most 100 influential people, and has also received recognition in Esquire and the New York Times Magazine for his leadership. Tickets to the event are still available through Friday, March 29 at http://equalityvirginia.org/dinner. When? Saturday, April 6, 2013 Where? Greater Richmond Convention Center 403 North Third Street Richmond, VA 23219 Cost General Tickets - $125 VIP Tickets - $250 Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.