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Nearly 300 people gathered on Thursday, April 7 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 16th annual Leadership Awards ceremony. The award this year went to former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential candidate, Dr. Howard Dean.”
”In this extraordinary country that has been under assault by the right wing for the last five years…, will we now walk the walk?” Dean asked those gathered, after emphasizing that he was not representing the Democratic National Committee, which he chairs, but himself alone. ”Will we now re-create the community that includes every American? If we fail to create the community that includes every American, America will ultimately fail as a country.”
While Dean was the big draw for the evening, which raised about $70,000 for the Task Force, some local star-power enhanced the event. Among those sharing the stage with Dean were D.C. City Council Chairman Linda Cropp (D); Virginia State Delegate Adam Ebbin (D), one of the state’s three openly gay elected officials; and the Rev. Graylan Hagler, whose enthusiastic speech prompted the first standing ovation of the evening.
In a sad coincidence, it was noted that the evening fell on what would have been Wanda Alston’s 46th birthday. Alston, the mayor’s liaison to the LGBT community, was murdered March 16.
”The sadness of the people in the District of Columbia is extremely evident,” Cropp said, echoing remarks she made at Alston’s memorial service. “Her sparkle remains in us. Perhaps that sparkle, that light, that commitment will be the thing to help us to do more for human rights, to do more for substance abuse, to do more for injustice.”