Elizabeth Birch returns to event to present Equality Award to Judy Shepard, mother of murder victim
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will be the keynote speaker at the 2009 Black Tie Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.
The event will also include the presentation of the Black Tie Dinner Media Award to singer/human rights activist Cyndi Lauper, and the presentation of the Kuchling Humanitarian Award to Dallas activist Steve Atkinson.
Elizabeth Birch, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, will be on hand to present the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award to activist Judy Shepard, mother of anti-gay hate murder victim Matthew Shepard.
Dinner co-chair Laurie Foley noted that this is the first time Birch has attended Black Tie since she was presented with the first Equality Award.
The theme for this year’s dinner is “Courage. Hope. Inspiration,” and Foley said she expects the fundraiser to be “one of the most empowering, educational and entertaining” in Black Tie’s 27-year history.
Newsom, who is widely expected to throw his hat in the ring in the California governor’s race, gained national attention in 2004 when he directed the San Francisco city/county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a voter-approved measure limiting legal marriage to opposite-sex couples. Newsom said at the time that he did so because he was duty-bound to uphold the California Constitution’s guarantees of equal rights.
Shepard became an internationally known activist for LGBT rights and for hate crimes laws after her son Matthew was murdered in 1998.
She will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award — named after the first person to receive it and presented this year by Birch herself — which is given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the LGBT community.
Atkinson, who will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award, has taken a leadership role in LGBT activism in North Texas for more than 16 years.
The Kuchling Award, presented each year since 1983, honors local individuals who have made “extraordinary gifts of their time and talents on behalf of the LGBT community.”
Lauper is being honored with the Black Tie Media Award for her longstanding support of the LGBT community, including the True Colors Tour in 2007 and 2008 that raised funds for HRC, P-FLAG and CenterLink. Lauper also has established the True Colors Fund that launched an extensive public awareness and education campaign this year.
This year’s Black Tie Dinner will also see the debut of the Grey Goose Lounge where guests will receive complimentary Grey Goose martinis and specialty cocktails in a setting featuring suede booths, white leather sofas, ottomans, full service tables and more.
Black Tie co-chair Ron Guillard said the line-up of special guests and the Grey Goose Lounge are “proving to be a powerful draw” for guests, which is especially important since “in economic times such as these, the beneficiaries will be looking to Black Tie Dinner funding more than ever.”
Proceeds from this year’s dinner will be divided between the Human Rights Campaign and 19 local beneficiaries. Local beneficiaries are Youth First Texas, AIDS Arms Inc., AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Resources of Rural Texas, AIDS Services of Dallas, AIDS Services of North Texas, Celebration Community Church, Congregation Beth El Binah, Equality Texas, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, Northaven United Methodist Church, Out Takes Dallas, Resource Center Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, White Rock Friends and The Women’s Chorus of Dallas.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2009.