Los Angeles – Equality California will honor four stellar LGBT leaders at its annual Los Angeles Equality Awards dinner on Saturday, September 17, 2016. Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Amanda Nunes, prominent local LGBT advocates Laura Brill and Ellen Evans, and labor leader Laphonza Butler will each receive Equality Awards for their work on behalf of the LGBT community, and the examples they have set for LGBT people in California and across the country. Former “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” star Jai Rodriguez and openly transgender actress, writer and filmmaker Rain Valdez will emcee the event. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Equality California’s endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate and recipient of an Equality Award herself in 2011, will deliver the keynote address.
“This year’s honorees have shattered stereotypes and fought to make our state and our country a better and more just place for LGBT people and the communities that we are part of,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “In sports, in the places we work and in the city we call home, they have served as role models, advocates and champions for LGBT people and we are better off because of them.”
Earlier this year, Amanda Nunes became the first openly LGBT person to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship Bantamweight title. The 28-year-old native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil never hid the fact she was a lesbian throughout her meteoric rise to the top. That openness and honesty continues today – her prolific social media posts highlight her relationship with her partner, fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff, and the two have been featured together in the media both in the United States and Brazil. Nunes has defied stereotypes and served as a role model for LGBT youth simply by being herself.
Over the course of their 29 years together, Laura Brill and Ellen Evans have been a constant force in the battle for LGBT civil rights, moving from campus activism to serving on boards of directors and fundraising for organizations and political campaigns. Brill is a top litigator and appellate attorney in Los Angeles and has provided pro bono work in some of the most important LGBT legal victories of the past 20 years, including Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning remaining U.S. sodomy laws; a landmark case clearing the way for LGBT student groups to be welcomed into thousands of high schools across the nation; and numerous other state and federal marriage equality cases across the country. Evans served on the board of Equality California Institute during a pivotal period, helping lead the development of a strategy that would ensure the organization’s future success. Evans is an out volunteer organizer in their children’s schools, and serves the LGBT community as an ambassador in many other communities.
Laphonza Butler is president of SEIU Local 2015 and of the SEIU California State Council, representing some 180,000 in-home caregivers and nursing home workers across California, and is one of the most prominent out lesbians in American labor. Butler believes that the purpose of the labor movement is to win social and economic justice for all, and that the wellbeing of LGBT people is a key measure of the movement’s success. When one in five LGBT adults lives in poverty and transgender people are four times more likely than the general public to have incomes under $10,000 per year, her leadership of the movement for a $15 an hour living wage in California has lifted thousands of LGBT and other people out of poverty. In addition, Butler serves as an example of an out and proud lesbian of color to thousands of LGBT young people.
Each year, Equality California recognizes individuals and organizations who have made an impact on the movement to secure full and lasting equality for LGBT people at its annual Equality Awards — a series of formal events held in San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.
This year’s Los Angeles Equality Awards will take place on Saturday, September 17 at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live, located at 900 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles. Individual tickets are $350 and up, with event sponsorship opportunities beginning at $5,000.
The 2016 Equality Awards are sponsored by AT&T, Coca-Cola Foundation, Gilead, La Crema, PG&E, Prophet, Sempra Energy, Southwest Airlines, and State Farm Insurance. For tickets or sponsorship information, contact Scott Gizicki at email@example.com or by calling 323-848-9801.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org