What We Did Saturday Night

If you were one of the 1,000 joining us on Saturday, thank you for bringing your energy that night.  We're sure you felt the electricity in the room just as much as we did!  Equality Virginia couldn’t have made this evening possible without you. If you couldn't make it this year, find out what we did Saturday night below. While buzz about marriage equality was top-of-mind with recent headlines, Saturday night, we gained renewed focus to keep pushing for workplace protections for LGBT Virginians inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. We all play a part in creating change.  The stories we shared about our OUTstanding Virginians and our local heros show we are fortunate to have many standing up for equality, but we still have much work to do to build a safer communities across Virginia. On Saturday, it was encouraging to see so many friends looking out for us. Now, we must continue doing our work at home to make sure they can do their work in local office, in the General Assembly, at the Governor’s desk, and in Congress to make this nation a more equal place for all. Yours in equality,
James Parrish Executive Director Michael Sutphin Dinner Chair

We Reunited With A Longtime Friend

We recognized Sen. Warner for his longstanding commitment to the LGBT community and for being the first standing Virginia Governor to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Sen. Mark Warner joined us several years ago at the Commonwealth Dinner and noted the shift he’s seen in his address to the crowd. “Ten years ago this dinner merely had 200 people. Now it is sold out, and it is representative of the changing face of Virginia,” Warner said. “It’s been a remarkable march of progress, but the fight is not done.” He also noted that majority of U.S. Senators now support marriage equality and hopes the same for the Supreme Court. See more pictures from the event on Facebook. 

We Congratulated These OUTstanding Virginians

Each year, Equality Virginia honors those who have spent their lives committed to equality for those in the LGBT community.  These courageous agents for change are our OUTstanding Virginians. From a 95-year-old activist who’s still active in the gay community to a transgender advocate working against domestic violence, on Saturday, we recognized seven movers and shakers in Virginia’s LGBT community.  And for the first time, we added two committed allies to the ranks of our honorees. Watch the video to meet our OUTstanding Virginians.

We Got A Promise From Terry McAuliffe

Virginia's Governor can issue an executive order inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and appoint LGBT-friendly people to boards that govern our adoption and foster care system. We extended an invitation to both gubernatorial candidates for this year’s race.  Terry McAuliffe joined us and pledged his commitment to standing up for the LGBT community. As governor, McAuliffe promised to reinstate the executive order that would protect all of Virginia’s state employees from discrimination in the workplace. Read press coverage from Sunday's Richmond Times-Dispatch

We Recognized This Local Hero From Roanoke

When Richard Henegar, Jr. found out about a college student’s car being vandalized in a nearby town, he stepped up and went above the call of duty. A video clip from the local news station went viral and the nation took notice. In fact, Ellen Degeneres took notice of what happened at Richard's body shop Quality Auto Paint & Body in Roanoke, VA. We were honored to recognize Richard on Saturday and he was a true rock star that night – the crowd loved him! Watch this clip from "Ellen" to see Richard’s act of kindness.  

We Got Kisses From Cory

Last year, we raised just over $33,000 from our special ask, so we knew we had to bring the energy this year.  We asked Todd Rosenlieb, the director of TRDance in Norfolk, to deliver this year’s ask. Todd set a goal to beat $40,000.  While we know he was well on his way, then Mayor Cory Booker jumped on stage and offered kisses to anyone who gave $10 per month.  It pushed giving and pledges to over $45,000.  Thank you to all who contributed!  We appreciate your support. If you would like to make a gift online, click here.

We Had Our Spirits Lifted

When Mayor Booker returned to the stage to deliver his keynote, he moved the crowd with personal stories and bits of wisdom.  Here are standout moments from his speech: Speaking about those who fought and died for their rights before us.  “You drink deeply from wells you didn’t dig.” Booker said as long as there is inequality in this country we are headed in the wrong direction. “This is the United States of America,” he said. “It’s not United Airlines where some of you can sit in first class and some people are back in coach. You can’t have two types of citizenship in this country.” He delivered an empowering call to action.  “I see something on TV and say, ‘somebody should do something about that.’  Then I realize, ‘I AM SOMEBODY!” "The power of the people is greater than the people in power." “When you feel the security of rights, you make sure everyone around you can enjoy them as well." "I'm not talking about just gay rights. I'm talking about your rights, my right, human rights, American rights!"

And…We Danced

Thank you to Platinum Sponsors Altria and Weinstein Properties and all of our sponsors for making the 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner possible.