CHICAGO, Ill. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's visionary advocacy for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans as a Member of Congress, Democratic Leader and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives will be recognized with the 2016 Equality Illinois Freedom Award.


Leader Pelosi will accept the recognition at the Equality Illinois 25th Anniversary Gala on Saturday evening, February 6, 2016 at the Hilton Chicago.EqILgala


"From her first speech in the House of Representatives in 1987, when she pressed Congress to take a leading role in fighting AIDS, to the present day and her leadership on the Equality Act, Leader Pelosi has always sought to address the challenges faced by LGBT Americans," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.


In 1996, Leader Pelosi was a leading voice against the passage of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.” As Speaker of the House, Pelosi led the Congress in passing the repeal of the discriminatory “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy restricting open service in the military in 2010 and the passage of the fully-inclusive Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which was the first LGBT-affirming federal law.


She has worked tirelessly to ensure that the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans were expressly addressed in landmark laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Affordable Care Act. An outspoken advocate for marriage equality for decades, Pelosi was the first national elected leader to call for the inclusion of a marriage equality plank in the 2012 Democratic National Convention platform.


"For her devotion to the principle that LGBT Americans deserve to be able to live full, equal lives, for her understanding that government must play a role in achieving that, and for her outspoken leadership in the fight for equality, Equality Illinois is proud to recognize Leader Pelosi with the 2016 Equality Illinois Freedom Award," Cherkasov said.


“It is an honor to receive the Equality Illinois Freedom Award and work alongside local and state LGBT leaders to continue our struggle for equality beyond marriage,” Leader Pelosi said. “By moving forward on the Equality Act to ensure that every LGBT American can work, love, and live free from discrimination, violence, and bigotry, we can strengthen our democracy and create a better future for all people.”


The Equality Illinois Gala, annually the largest LGBT event of its kind in the Midwest, is expected to draw more than 1,400 guests, including nearly 100 public officials and many community VIPs. This year's event will celebrate Equality Illinois' 25th Anniversary Jubilee Year.


The Equality Illinois Freedom Award is given annually at the Equality Illinois gala. Past Freedom Award winners include Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, state Rep. Greg Harris, the late state Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, the late state Rep. Mark Beaubien Jr., state Sen. Heather Steans, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Chicago Urban League, entertainer Lea DeLaria, the TransLife Center of Chicago House and filmmaker Lana Wachowski.


More information on the gala can be found at eqil.org/gala.

 

 

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