SACRAMENTO – Equality California will honor California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Adama Iwu, Cathy Schwamberger, and The Capitol LGBTQ Association for their leadership in the fight to advance LGBTQ civil rights and social justice at the organization’s annual Sacramento Equality Awards on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will receive this year’s Ally Leadership Award. During his service in Congress, Becerra was one of the LGBTQ community’s strongest and earliest allies. In the year since becoming California Attorney General, Becerra has been a nation al leader in the resistance to the harmful policies of the Trump Administration. Under his direction, California has filed 28 lawsuits against the Trump Administration on issues of LGBTQ equality, immigration, healthcare, and the environment. A key part of his work has extended to defending the rights and health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community. He filed an amicus brief in the G.G. v. Gloucestor County School Board case in support of Gavin Grim and transgender students. He intervened on behalf of the state of California in Equality California’s lawsuit Stockman v. Trump to block the Trump Administration’s transgender military ban, putting the weight and moral authority of the state of California against the transgender military ban.
“On a national scale, and in California, Xavier Becerra has been one of the LGBTQ community’s strongest and earliest allies,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “He stood with the LGBTQ community in the early years of our civil rights fight when most members of Congress and Democrats were evolving in their support for LGBTQ civil rights. He was one of the earliest supporters of marriage equality, has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the LGBTQ community in advancing protections against hate crimes, has fought for funding for HIV services and research and was an original cosponsor of the Equality Act. We could not ask for a stronger ally.”
Adama Iwu will receive Equality California’s Equality Activist Award. Iwu was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s “Silence Breakers” for her efforts to end sexual harassment in the California State Capitol. This past year, she authored a bipartisan letter signed by 140 women that publicly called for an end to the culture of sexual harassment within the California Capitol community. Iwu is co-founder of the organization, “We Said Enough,” which works to eradicate sexual harassment in California politics and currently serves as senior director of local and state government relations at Visa Inc. Iwu’s longstanding advocacy for social justice and the civil rights of all people, including LGBTQ people, is crucial at a time when LGBTQ people still face employment disparities and high rates of workplace discrimination.
“Adama Iwu has been a powerful voice against discrimination and harassment in California’s institutions of power.” said Zbur. “In the current climate, we have unfortunately seen that policies and legal protections are not always enough to ensure that all people are treated with dignity, respect, and equality. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ people are often the most vulnerable in this pervasive and toxic culture. It takes brave voices that are willing to speak out and ensure laws and policies result in meaningful behavioral changes and cultural shifts. Equality California is proud to recognize Adama Iwu for the momentous strides she has made to achieve equality and respect for our community and all people.”
Cathy Schwamberger will receive Equality California’s Equality Leadership Award. Schwamberger is former board president of Equality California Institute and a long-time board member and supporter of Equality California. Under her leadership, she successfully helped Equality California through numerous transitional periods and because of her dedication, the organization experienced major growth. Schwamberger is Associate General Counsel for State Farm and serves as a lead attorney for legislative and regulatory activities. She also serves as a member of the Insurance Diversity Task Force of the California Department of Insurance, where she contributes to concentrated efforts to increase diversity within the insurance industry.
“Cathy Schwamberger has been one of the key leaders in building support for LGBTQ equality in California’s business community,” said Zbur. “Because of Cathy’s experience and leadership in this sector, not only has Equality California been able to grow and further our mission to serve more LGBTQ people throughout California, but Cathy’s successful advocacy has also led companies and employers to better support full LGBTQ equality.”
The Capitol LGBTQ Association will receive this year’s Community Empowerment Award. The Capitol LGBTQ Association is a cutting-edge state-level association that facilitates the professional development of LGBTQ-identified individuals in the California Capitol community. The Association works to recruit LGBTQ staff, support their retention and provide professional mentorship and networking opportunities, and educate the state Capitol community on issues affecting or related to the LGBTQ community.
“The Capitol LGBTQ Association is a first of its kind state-level association for out individuals in the California Capitol community. By organizing, empowering, and supporting the next generation of LGBTQ leaders, they are ensuring LGBTQ people have a seat at the table in California’s institutions of power,” said Zbur. “LGBTQ presence in the California Capitol advances the public’s education and understanding of our community, creates recognition of our community’s talent and skills, and serves an important role in achieving full and lasting LGBTQ equality.”
The Sacramento Equality Awards will be co-chaired by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Assemblymember David Chiu, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Equality California board vice president Joe Gregorich, and Equality California board president Mandy Lee.
The 2018 Equality Awards are sponsored by AT&T, Edison International, Farmers Insurance, Gilead, La Crema, Lyft, PG&E, Sempra Energy, Southwest Airlines, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and UberEats. For more information about the Equality Awards, visit www.eqca.org/equality-awards/.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org