The Stonewall Democrats Capital Champions event on Thursday evening was both fun and memorable.
There were about 125 people in the Gompers Room at the AFL-CIO headquarters and it reminded me of my early days in the Democratic Party when union halls were places Democrats could count on nearly 100 percent support. Today we see unions fighting incumbent Democrats in Arkansas and other places and some of their members are all over the block. Ah, for want of the good old days. But I digress.
It was great to see Frank Kameny, who turns 85 year old Friday. Happy birthday, Frank! I first met Frank nearly 30 years ago and watching him collect all the honors this year that he so richly deserves has been great. The Capital Champion award continues the roll Frank is on with recognition from everyone for his efforts on behalf of the LGBT movement all the way up to and including President Obama. The award to Frank was presented by Michael Mitchell, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats. Michael, who gave a great introduction, made me think that too often we wait till someone can’t appreciate it anymore before we give them the honors they deserve. But in Frank’s case, it is clear to see that he is as vital and blustery and honest as ever and you can just tell by the smile on his face that he likes these honors and you know he agrees that he deserves them.
The second Capital Champion Award was presented to U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who presented the award, spoke of the work Tammy has done and continues to do as a hero to the LGBT community. I have had the pleasure of meeting Tammy numerous times and she is an amazing lady and an incredible representative for our community. We can only hope that she remains in Congress and is willing to speak out and work for us for many years to come.
The final award was presented to Richard Trumpka, president of the AFL-CIO, by Peggy Shorey, executive director of Pride at Work. We were reminded how supportive the union movement has been of the LGBT movement.
As I wandered the room, it was great to see Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who reminded me we recently saw each other when he gave what I know was an award-winning performance in Will on the Hill at the Shakespeare Theatre. Seriously, he was really good. I bumped into Jack Jacobson, ANC commissioner extraordinaire and the demur Morgan Corr.
No event in the LGBT community is complete if Dana Beyer isn’t there, and she didn’t disappoint. Remember you Maryland people: Dana needs your support in her race for the Maryland legislature.
Then there was the usual contingent from Office of Personnel Management — informally known these days as the Office of Gay Managers — led by John Marble, who is one of the people most responsible for the growth and success of the Stonewall Democrats. Also there taking pictures for Stonewall was that hot photographer Scott Henrichsen. Many more people, too numerous to mention, were walking around with a cocktail in their hands and schmoozing. These events, which bring out so many local activists, are great because we can just chat in a relaxed setting and celebrate the people being honored, and in many ways each other, and recognize how far we have come.
But we know that at the back of everyone’s mind there is the reality that tomorrow will bring another day, and we will wake up with the realization of how far we still have to go before we in the LGBT community can claim our full human and civil rights. Tomorrow we continue the fight to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and rescind the Defense of Marriage Act. None of these goals are easy tasks.
But I truly believe that the people in that room, along with and the tens of thousands of like-minded people across the country, will one day secure those rights, and future generations in the LGBT community will truly live full and complete lives with the dignity and respect that each person should have.