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Human Rights Campaign Announces Speakers at 25th Annual Bay Area Gala

SAN FRANCISCO, July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, today announced its speakers for its annual Greater Bay Area Gala Dinner on Saturday, July 25, 2009, at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. With the theme of "Power in Progress," speakers will discuss issues impacting the LGBT community's strive for human rights and equality, while celebrating advancements that have been made.

"With opportunities to sign legislation into effect under President Obama's administration including the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act and inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act, 2009 is a pivotal year to continue to build upon the progress our community has already made," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We are honored to feature Congressman Honda and Congressman Nadler at our 25th Annual Gala in San Francisco, both of whom are staunch allies and advocates for our community on Capitol Hill."

On July 16th, 2009, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to add the Matthew Shepard Act to S. 1390, the Senate version of the Department of Defense Authorization bill. The Matthew Shepard Act would give the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

While expressing opposition to four amendments added to the Act this week by the Senate , HRC continues to work with House and Senate champions to work out these amendments and any other differences on hate crimes between the House and the Senate over the next two months.

In addition to the Matthew Shepard Act, speakers at the Gala will discuss the need for progress on other legislation facing the LGBT community as well, including Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA.) Speakers Eric Alva, the first American wounded in the war in Iraq and recipient of the Purple Heart, and Anthony Woods, an Iraq war veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star currently running in the September 1 Special Election for California's 10th Congressional District, will highlight their personal experiences in the military and the need for equality for LGBT service members and veterans. Woods was recently endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign.

A vocal supporter of gay civil rights and gay marriage across the country, actress Audra McDonald, acclaimed singer and actress, earning an unprecedented three Tony Awards before the age of 30 (Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime),a fourth in 2004 (A Raisin in the Sun), and who can currently be seen as Dr. Naomi Bennett in the third season of ABC's hit television series Private Practice, will also receive HRC's Ally for Equality Award.

Additional award recipients throughout the evening include Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Family Builders and recipient of this year's Charles M Holmes Award, and PG&E, recipient of HRC's Corporate Equality Award, for the company's strong public and financial support of the No on 8 campaign in 2008, as well as their continued 100% rating on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

Registration & Program

To purchase tickets, preview the program agenda, and for more information about the San Francisco Dinner, please visit: or call Box Office Tickets at: 800-494-TIXS (8497).

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign
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