Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel in space, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced on Monday. The award is the country’s highest civilian honor. After her death last July, it was disclosed in her obituaries that she had a partner of 27 years, Tammy O’Shaughnessy.
“We remember Sally Ride not just as a national hero, but as a role model to generations of young women,” President Obama said in a statement. “Sally inspired us to reach for the stars, and she advocated for a greater focus on the science, technology, engineering and math that would help us get there. Sally showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I look forward to welcoming her family to the White House as we celebrate her life and legacy.”
According to the White House, Ride’s partner, mother, and sister were notified last week of the president’s decision to give the late astronaut the award. Additionally, the White House said more honorees will be named in the coming weeks and the awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.
In related news, the White House is set to honor 10 openly LGBT Americans on Wednesday for their public service as part of its “Harvey Milk Champions of Change” event.
The event falls on Harvey Milk’s birthday and almost four years after when the gay rights pioneer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“When President Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised his leadership and courage in running for office,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president. “Today, we honor Harvey Milk’s legacy in these ten outstanding public servants, who will surely inspire the next generation of public servants.”
A list of honorees follows. One of the awardees, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, was profiled in the Washington Blade during his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2011.
* Simone Bell, Georgia State Representative, Atlanta, Ga.
* Angie Buhl O’Donnell, South Dakota State Senator, Sioux Falls, S.D
* Karen Clark, Minnesota State Representative, South Minneapolis, Minn
* Michael Gin, Mayor of Redondo Beach, Redondo Beach, Calif.
* Kim Coco Iwamoto, Hawaii State Civil Rights Commissioner, Honolulu, Hawaii,
* John Laird, Calif. Secretary of Natural Resources, Santa Cruz, Calif.
* Ricardo Lara, California State Senator, Long Beach, Calif.
* Kim Painter, Johnson Country Recorder, Iowa City, Iowa
* Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati City Council Member, Cincinnati, Ohio;
* Pat Steadman, Colorado State Senator, Denver, Colo.
The event will be livestreamed here starting Wednesday at 3 p.m.