March 17, 2015 at 5:59 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Windsor, Shepard to be honored during protest commemoration

Edith Windsor, white men, gay news, Washington Blade

Edith Windsor speaks outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2013, following oral arguments in her case that challenged the Defense of Marriage Act. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Organizers of a series of events that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of a landmark gay rights protest in Philadelphia on Monday announced they will honor Edith Windsor and Judy Shepard.

Windsor — a New York widow who successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 — and Shepard — whose gay son, Matthew, died in 1998 after two men brutally beat him before tying him to a fence outside Laramie, Wyo., will receive awards during a ceremony at Independence Hall on July 4.

“I am thrilled and grateful to be receiving the ‘International Hero’ award at this upcoming glorious 50th anniversary,” said Windsor in a statement.

Judy Shepard in a statement noted she and her husband have traveled to Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore and other countries since her son’s death to “build understanding and support for equality in some very rapidly changing societies.”

“As the world grows ever smaller and more connected we are honored to be recognized for being a part of helping make the LGBT community better understood and more connected with communities around the world,“ said Shepard.

The series of events will commemorate the first of a series of “annual reminders” that took place outside Independence Hall on July 4, 1965.

Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings are among the 40 advocates who took part in the first protest. That number grew to 150 people on July 4, 1969, less than a week after the Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The last “annual reminder” protest took place in 1970 when advocates marched from Greenwich Village to Central Park to commemorate the first anniversary of Stonewall. This event was the first LGBT Pride march to ever take place in the U.S.

Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin, who chairs the committee that is planning the events around the 50th anniversary of the “annual reminder” protests, in a statement applauded Windsor and Shepard for their contributions to the LGBT rights movement.

“There are very few more deserving recipients we could honor as International Heroes, especially in this 50th anniversary year,” said Lazin. “Their courage and commitment to our community is immeasurable, their impact historic and we are thrilled they will be joining us to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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