Equality California
Equality California Proud to Announce Honorees for Palm Springs Equality Awards
September 25, 2012

CONTACT: Josh Steichmann, Equality California
PHONE: 734-277-5201 EMAIL: steichmann@eqca.org

Equality California Proud to Announce Honorees for Palm Springs Equality Awards

Honorees include Senator Barbara Boxer, Assembly Speaker John Perez, Tori St. John and Safe Schools Palm Springs and Desert Communities, and Mattie Leyden

(Palm Springs) Equality California is proud to announce the honorees for the Palm Springs Equality Awards, the final Equality Awards of the year. Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez will be honored with the Leadership Award, Senator Barbara Boxer will be honored with the Leadership Ally award, Tori St. John and Safe Schools Palm Springs and Desert Communities will receive the Exceptional Service award, and Mattie Leyden will be honored with the State Farm Good Neighbor Award.

Pérez is the country’s first openly gay speaker of a house or assembly, and has been a tireless advocate for legislation like SB 1172, which will ban psychological abuse of minors in the guise of “conversion therapy.” Pérez spoke at the Democratic National Convention, and will perform as expert witness Stanford Professor Gary Segura in Dustin Lance Black’s play “8” in San Francisco on October 7. Pérez was mentioned in the actual court testimony due to his role as the nation’s first openly gay Speaker.

Boxer was one of 16 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and has become a strong advocate for the freedom to marry. She has also voted to extend hate crimes protections to sexual orientation, to prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in schools, and endorsed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in employment.

By honoring Safe Schools Palm Springs and Desert Communities, Equality California recognizes the years of exceptional service with the students in the Coachella Valley, creating meaningful activities for GSA clubs and implementing anti-bullying programs within all the Desert school districts. Tori St. John has worked for more than two decades with the Desert Sands Unified School District, Gay Associated Youth and Safe Schools providing desperately needed support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, especially when their own schools fail to comply with the laws protecting them from bullying and harassment.

“Tori has been a straight ally since way before the term was invented,” said George Zander, Equality California field manager for the Desert region. “If we had ten Toris, we wouldn’t have a single youth without counseling and care in the desert.”

Mattie Leyden is a U.S. Marine veteran who through her work as a member of the LGBT Outreach Committee at the Palm Springs Police Department saw a dire need for transgender resources in the desert region and stepped up to make sure that transgender resources were available at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert. Leyden is receiving the State Farm Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes the important contributions of everyday people to the LGBT community.

“We are pleased to honor Speaker Pérez and Senator Boxer for their work and their leadership,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. “Speaker Pérez is an amazing, well, speaker, and Senator Boxer has been crucial on many of the national gains the LGBT community has made. We are also thrilled to honor Tori St. John and Mattie Leyden for their important grassroots activism.”

The 2012 Palm Springs Equality Awards take place at the Riviera Resort and Spa, in Palm Springs, on Saturday, October 13, 2012, and are made possible in part by Statewide Presenting Sponsor AT&T, Statewide Reception Sponsor State Farm Insurance, Official Airline Sponsor Southwest Airlines and Statewide Sponsors Voli Vodka and Bank of America.

For more information about tickets to or sponsorship of the 2012 Equality Awards visit www.eqcaawards.org/palm-springs-equality-awards/.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 85 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org

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