LGBT Caucus Honors 40 Years of PrideLGBT Caucus

by Ken Pierce

The California Legislature proclaimed June 2010 as LGBT Pride Month and celebrated the LGBT Community’s past accomplishments and contributions at a ceremony hosted by the Legislature's LGBT Caucus on Monday, June 14.

The Assembly used the occasion to honor eight LGBT individuals and the Prides of Los Angeles and San Francisco on the occasion of their 40th anniversaries. The honorees were selected from across the state for their lifetime contributions and accomplishments in creating a better future for California and the United States.

Sacramento’s own, Tina Reynolds, co-founder of Equality Action Now, business owner and long-time activist received a lifetime achievement award for her “extraordinary inability to stand by and watch even one person be treated as less then equal. She has been a tireless activist for social equality and change during a time when these words were still largely foreign in mainstream America.”Tina Reynolds

The ceremony took place on the floor of the Assembly with a reception afterward hosted by the Caucus consisting of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (Caucus Chair), Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, Senator Christine Kehoe and Senator Mark Leno.

Reynolds is much loved by her friends and family as well as thousands of members and supporters of Equality Action Now, a grassroots civil rights organization she co-founded literally moments after learning that Prop 8 passed and there would be no more same-sex marriages in the State of California.

Of course there are those on the other side of the fence that would rather she stay quiet and quit rocking the boat. But rock the boat is what she was born to do and no one does it better.

Early in the formation of Equality Action Now, the leadership decided they would not focus primarily on the same-sex-marriage issue. Rather their battles have been fought on many fronts.Dr. William Beck

Under the leadership of Reynolds members have organized protests and candlelight vigils for LGBTQI (community members who have been killed because of a hate crime, organized food collections for the hungry, marched alongside of Safe Ground Sacramento, hosted Harvey Milk Day events, camped overnight with the homeless and proudly marched in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade.

At the Capitol Pride Festival June 19, 2010 the organization will bring up the rear of the Pride Parade so that anyone who would like to, can join them and become part of the event.

As a businesswoman, Tina Reynolds and her design firm, Uptown Studios, donated thousands of hours of work and personal time and have given to the community much more then most people realize.

Her company policy has become a model of social responsibility and environmental sustainability. As a businessperson, she has raised the bar of professional integrity here in the greater Sacramento Region.

In the ceremony that took place at the State Capitol, Reynolds was honored alongside several LGBT icons of the community. Armisted Maupin was honored for his most famous work, “Tales of the City.”

Dr. William Beck raised millions for people with HIV/AIDS and other social services.Cecilia Chung

Cecilia Chung was honored for her advocacy for the transgender community.

Professor David Cruz, a constitutional law expert focused his career on civil rights and equality issues.Professor David Cruz

Jewel Thais-Williams was honored for her decades-long advocacy for healthcare within the LGBT community.Jewel Thais-Williams

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon are LGBT Heroes to thousands of people their lives and deeds have touched throughout the many decades they were together. Del Martin passed away in 2008 but Phyllis Lyon still commands a great deal of respect, even receiving a standing ovation from all members of the assembly, Democrat and Republican alike when she was escorted inside the assembly room to receive her award.Phyllis Lyon

The youngest honoree, Aaron Alvarado was honored for his courage, perseverance, and work as he founded the first Gay-Straight Alliance at his High School. He braved constant harassment from fellow students but he was not deterred from convincing the school board to remove homophobic curriculum from health courses to improve the well being of future students.Aaron Alvarado

The Assembly also recognized the 40th Anniversary of LGBT Pride Celebrations in California. Representing the celebrations was Christopher Street West (Los Angeles’ Pride Organization) and San Francisco Pride.

To end the ceremony, Garrin Benfield, an openly gay musician living in San Francisco sang a song he wrote for slain gay youth, Matthew Shepard.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and staff member Matt Bunch worked very hard to be inclusive and honor true heroes to the LGBT community rather then a list of recognizable entertainers.


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