FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2009
CONTACT: Vaishalee Raja, Communications Director
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Equality California Presents Award on Behalf of State of California Honoring Harvey Milk
The civil rights champion and other leaders are honored to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Employment and Housing Act
SACRAMENTO -- Equality California's Government Affairs Director, Alice Kessler, presented an award honoring Harvey Milk on Jan. 14 at the State Capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California's principal civil rights non-discrimination law.
Under FEHA, California provides some of the most comprehensive workforce and housing protections of any state in the nation. FEHA covers both sexual orientation and gender identity thanks to legislation sponsored by Equality California, California's LGBT civil rights and lobbying organization.
Kessler presented the award honoring Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California history and a civil rights pioneer. As a Supervisor in San Francisco, Milk worked to pass one of the first gay rights ordinances in the country -- a prototype for what was to come at the state level, and he was instrumental in helping to defeat an initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Accepting the award for Milk was Stuart Milk, the late Harvey Milk's nephew.
"Harvey Milk's courageous fight for justice and equality for Californians continues to inspire our community and serves as a source of great pride and strength," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. "It's a humbling honor for EQCA to help recognize his lasting achievements and legacy."
Other awardees include Robert David Hall, an actor and disability rights activist, Dionicio Morales, the late Mexican-American civil rights pioneer, and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, the first African-American woman to be elected Speaker of the California Legislature. Presenting the award to Speaker Bass was longtime EQCA ally and California NAACP President Alice Huffman.
The event was led by State Consumer Services Agency Secretary Rosario Marin, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing Director Phyllis Cheng and Fair Employment and Housing Commission Commissioner Linda Ng.
EQCA works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people. To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political process. www.eqca.org
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