Rosendall presents awards for marriage equality activists

(Pastor Dennis Wiley of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality accepts award.)

Distinguished Service Awards for Marriage Equality Activists

Presented by GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs Rick Rosendall

GLAA 39th Anniversary Reception
Washington Plaza Hotel
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First, I'd like to invite current and former councilmembers and past distinguished service award winners to join me as I make this presentation. All of you helped lay the groundwork for this extraordinary achievement.

You may be worried by the fact that there are ten awards left to distribute, and I am the last presenter. Rest assured, my minutes-to-tchotchke ratio is lower than anyone else's.

At its heart, a city is its people. The people of Washington, by consistently electing a strongly pro-gay legislature, have given our nation its first majority-black jurisdiction to enact civil marriage equality.

In 1975, GAA members Cade Ware, Frank Kameny and Craig Howell gave the first D.C. Council testimony favoring same-sex marriage. In 1976, Philip Pannell testified for same-sex marriage at a hearing on Arrington Dixon’s no-fault divorce bill. In 1978, Jim Zais, Mayo Lee, and Bill Boggan pushed for a bill to bar ballot measures that infringed on people’s rights; it was passed the following year under newly-elected Chairman Dixon. In the ensuing years, the building blocks of equality included everything from sodomy law repeal to domestic partnerships.

But it was not policy victories alone that brought us here. LGBT people have deep roots in this city. We helped build and enrich our communities. All who took part in our journey are with us in spirit today.

The honor roll is far too long to read here; but before we get to our honorees, we must mention several people. Some are past winners of Distinguished Service Awards, including lead strategist Bob Summersgill; the bill’s author, David Catania; and Judiciary chair Phil Mendelson. The other supporters on the Council are Chairman Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, Jim Graham (a past honoree), Jack Evans (a past honoree), Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, Harry Thomas Jr., and Tommy Wells.

Before signing the bill in All Souls Unitarian Church on December 18, Mayor Adrian Fenty invoked the moral example of his parents, and spoke of a city that embraces all its people.

David Catania’s chief of staff, Ben Young, did critical research. His legislative counsel, Kevin Stogner, helped draft the bill. Steve Gorman helped win ward-level Democratic support. Carlene Cheatam and Ronald King were eloquent at contentious community meetings. Covington & Burling donated legal services. Patrick Mara and Bob Kabel lobbied Congress. Attorney General Peter Nickles submitted strong legal briefs. Cornelius Baker, Peter Rosenstein and others provided voter research through the Foundation for All D.C. Families. Aisha Mills and the Campaign for All D.C. Families are preparing to fight the battles ahead. The National Black Justice Coalition is helping with educational efforts.

We would be here all hours if we gave an award to everyone who deserves recognition. We present awards to the following stalwarts as representatives of the larger coalition:

These exemplars illustrate the variety of contributions to the coalition effort that brought to fruition one of GLAA’s longstanding goals.

It is my privilege to present GLAA’s Distinguished Service Award to these champions of marriage equality (and please come forward as your names are called): DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality and its co-chairs, Pastors Dennis Wiley, Christine Wiley, and Robert Hardies. Michael Crawford. Rev. Monique Ellison. Brian K. Flowers. Mark Levine. Nick McCoy. Brian Moore. Sultan Shakir. Congratulations and thanks to all of you.

(Michael Crawford; honorees; D.C. Council General Counsel Brian K. Flowers.)

(Pastor Robert Hardies; Rev. Monique Ellison; Mark Levine.)

(Nick McCoy; Brian Moore; Sultan Shakir.)

(Psstors Dennis Wiley, Christine Wiley, and Robert Hardies.)