(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 RosendallGLAA 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:
- DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, co-chaired by Pastors Dennis Wiley, Christine Wiley and Robert Hardies, organized a broad spectrum of affirming clergy in defense of marriage equality. Rev. Hardies is pastor of D.C.’s historic All Souls Unitarian Church. He is also a leader in the Washington Interfaith Network; a board member of La Clinica del Pueblo; a member of the advisory board of the Network of Spiritual Progressives; and an adjunct faculty member at Wesley Theological Seminary. The Reverends Dr. Christine Wiley and Dr. Dennis Wiley have been serving at D.C.'s Covenant Baptist Church for twenty-three years. They have been co-pastors since 2004. Pastor Christine has served in pastoral ministry for over 25 years. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and a member of the Strategy Leadership Team of the Washington Interfaith Network. She received a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Pastoral Counseling and Psychotherapy in 1994 from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. She has held posts at Wesley Theological Seminary and is currently Director of Field Education at Howard University Divinity School. Pastor Dennis earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary. He is an adjunct professor of theology at Howard and a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and the Executive Board of the Black Religious Scholars Group. He formerly chaired the Board of Trustees of the Nannie Helen Burroughs School and served on the Executive Board of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
- Michael Crawford is co-chair of DC for Marriage. He led an aggressive grassroots organizing effort and helped recruit couples willing to step forward and tell their compelling stories. He was previously an Associate Field Director at Human Rights Campaign and Communications Director at Energy Action Coalition. He is now Director of New Media for Freedom to Marry. He blogs at Bilerico.com and the Huffington Post. He was named one of The Advocate Magazine's 2009 People of the Year.
- The Rev. Monique Ellison did outreach and advocacy at community meetings around the city as co-leader of the ANC Action Team. She is an Associate for Client Development and Evangelism with Listening Hearts Ministries. Ordained in 2002, she is a graduate of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. She is co-vicar at the Church of the Resurrection.
- Brian K. Flowers provided legal expertise as General Counsel to the D.C. Council, including detailed comments on several proposed anti-gay ballot measures. He reviews all Council bills and resolutions prior to their placement in final form; oversees legislative drafting; provides advice to members, staff, and committees; and conducts litigation. His history of public service in D.C. began when he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1981.
- Mark Levine, counsel for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, helped craft the bill and defend it with incisive testimony and court briefs. He co-founded Marriage Equality California in the late 90s. He has hosted the nationally syndicated radio and television show “The Inside Scoop” since 2003. Prior to that, he served as legislative counsel to Rep. Barney Frank. Today he announced that he has a new gig with Fox News to debate a conservative for five minutes at 9:30 every Wednesday morning.
- Nick McCoy did extensive voter canvassing and was co-leader of the ANC Action Team. He organized the Family, Faith, and Fairness Rally on December 14. He has worked with United Methodist Church leaders to create long-term plans to combat homelessness, addiction, and HIV/AIDS in D.C. He is a Human Rights Campaign field organizer.
- Brian Moore, legislative counsel for the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, played a leading role in perfecting the bill and prepared a masterful, comprehensive committee report. He also worked on several bills expanding the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners in the District. He is a 2004 graduate of the Emory University School of Law.
- Sultan Shakir is a regional field director for the Human Rights Campaign who has provided extensive support to local activists. He previously worked as a project manager and trainer for the firm Grassroots Solutions. He has done training for America Coming Together and Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota and the Voter Activation Network.
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.)