D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, six members of the City Council and D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton were among those who turned out on April 21 for the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance’s 45th anniversary celebration at Policy Restaurant and Lounge on 14th Street, N.W.
GLAA, a nonpartisan group, has been credited with playing a key role in transforming the city’s local home rule government into one of the nation’s most LGBT supportive cities since the group’s founding in 1971. It has the distinction of being the nation’s oldest continuously operating LGBT civil rights organization.
“I am happy to be here with GLAA,” Bowser told the gathering. “And I want to recognize always the hard work that you are doing in our city and I want to recognize the fact that the reason we’re a great place for gays and lesbians is because of the hard work that you have been waging for decades in the District of Columbia.”
Bowser presented the group with a mayoral proclamation declaring April 21 as Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington Day in the District of Columbia.
City Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) presented GLAA with a resolution passed by the Council honoring the group for its long history of advocating for equality for the LGBT community and the city.
Mendelson was joined by Council members Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Vincent Orange (D-At-Large), Elisa Silverman (I-At-Large), and David Grosso (I-At-Large). Also attending the event was former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At-Large).
In addition to the Council members, at-large Council candidates David Garber, who’s gay, and Robert White, who is aggressively courting the vote, also attended the event, greeting GLAA members and their supporters. Garber and White are challenging Orange for the at-large seat in the city’s June 14 Democratic primary.
Both were expected to join Orange on April 26 in attending the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club’s endorsement forum, where they and other Council candidates will speak before the club votes on which of the candidates to endorse.
GLAA President Rick Rosendall noted that GLAA will soon be releasing its ratings of Council candidates based on their past record and positions on LGBT related issues.
Rosendall, GLAA Vice President for Administration Kevin Davis and former GLAA president Craig Howell presented the organization’s annual Distinguished Service Award to longtime LGBT rights advocates June Crenshaw and Sterling Washington and D.C. Office of Human Rights Director Monica Palacio.
Crenshaw, among other things, serves as chair of the board of the Rainbow Response Coalition, which addresses issues related to domestic violence affecting the LGBT community. Washington served as director of the Office of GLBT Affairs under the administration of Mayor Vincent Gray. Palacio, an attorney, is credited with strengthening the OHR’s LGBT supportive policies, including a first-of-its-kind study identifying anti-transgender job discrimination by city employers.
Veteran gay rights activist Paul Kuntzler, who is one of GLAA’s founding members, delivered the event’s annual toast recognizing its longstanding work on behalf of LGBT equality.
Rosendall called for a moment of silence in memory of longtime GLAA member and D.C. statehood advocate Jerry Clark, who died on April 9 at the age of 74.