2006 DC Leadership Awards

D.C. Leadership Awards 2006

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A 450-plus crowd turned out May 6 for the Task Force’s D.C. Leadership Awards honoring U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Pulitzer Prize winner and Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx, and Food & Friends, a local organization that provides critical support to people facing life-challenging illnesses. The event — the first full-fledged dinner the Task Force has done in D.C. in 13 years — raised nearly $200,000.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. was honored for his longstanding commitment to justice and equal rights, including his work in passing a transgender-inclusive hate crimes measure in the House. Conyers managed the opposition on the floor of the House to a court-stripping bill and the Federal Marriage Amendment, and successfully led the case for transgender equality by writing a hate crimes bill that explicitly includes transgender people, persuading his colleagues to support the measure and working with the minority leaders and his colleagues to get the measure passed in the House.

Conyers told the filled ballroom at the beautiful Omni Shoreham Hotel that he was “proud to come here tonight, and proud to stand with you.” He noted the progress the LGBT rights movement has already made, and that it is gaining more and more support.

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold was one of 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and he voted against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He has been a leading voice against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and has taken an unequivocal stand for marriage equality. Annie Proulx, author of Brokeback Mountain, traveled from her home in Wyoming to attend the event. She accepted her award with plain-spoken wit and grace. “I’ve heard a lot about the grassroots tonight,” she told the audience. “I know about the grassroots. I’ve been writing about them for a long time.” Food & Friends, a local organization in the D.C. metro area was honored for its commitment to making sure that people with life-challenging diseases have both the nutrition and friendship they need to survive and thrive.

The Task Force thanks co-chairs Hans Johnson, Sheila Alexander-Reid, Lee Rubin and Cuc Vu and all the volunteers who made this event possible. We also thank the many supporters, including Platinum sponsors the Washington Mystics, Kaiser Permanente, Frank Selvaggi & Bill Shea, Jeff Soref, the National Education Association and the Natalie and Norman Soref Family. We thank our Gold sponsors: the Democratic National Committee, Food & Friends, JR’s Bar & Grill, Lee Rubin & Jim Walker and the Service Employees International Union.