2006 Miami Recognition Dinner

Miami Recognition Dinner 2006

10th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner: Inspiring speeches, record-breaking proceeds and a surprise visit by President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton greets an excited crowd. (Photo by Brett Hufziger / bhuf.com)

Former President Bill Clinton surprised 650-plus attendees and made headlines when he showed up at the 10th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner, presented by Merrill Lynch, on Nov. 4. Clinton, who was in South Florida to campaign for Democratic candidates, arrived at the event around 8 p.m., where he greeted NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, one of the evening’s honorees, and then shook hands with numerous attendees. The event raised more than $270,000; the Task Force will donate two-thirds of the net proceeds to organizations serving the Miami-Dade LGBT community.

The Miami Recognition Dinner honored Bond, who received the evening's National Leadership Award, and local honorees TWN, recipient of the Community Service Award, and philanthropist Robert "Bob" Cole, recipient of the Miami Herald Humanitarian Award.

In his keynote address, Bond lambasted the tactics of opponents of marriage equality for same-sex couples, saying, "Gay and lesbian rights are not 'special rights' in any way. It isn't 'special' to be free from discrimination — it is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship. The right not to be discriminated against is a commonplace claim we all expect to enjoy under our laws and our founding document, the Constitution. That many had to struggle to gain these rights makes them precious — it does not make them special and it does not reserve them only for me or restrict them from others." He received a standing ovation that lasted more than three minutes.

The Community Service Award was presented to TWN, an LGBT publication launched in 1977 in response to Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign to halt passage of a human rights ordinance protecting gays and lesbians in Dade County.

Robert "Bob" Cole, a longtime activist who has founded and nurtured many of the local community's vital organizations, received The Miami Herald Humanitarian Award from Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler.

The awards ceremony at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel began with a video retrospective of the 30 years since Bryant's crusade, produced by Recognition Dinner production coordinator Doug Williford. Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman gave an overview of some of the Task Force's recent accomplishments before quoting the late Coretta Scott King: "You cannot fight for justice unless you are angry about injustice." Foreman encouraged the audience to stay angry about injustice, saying "[I am] angry that we now live in a nation where lying about a blow job is an impeachable offense, but lying that leads to the literal blowing up of thousands of human bodies is not."

Richard Peter Wharton and Task Force board member Dr. Hope Wine co-chaired a steering committee that exceeded an ambitious revenue goal. The committee included Task Force board members Michael Aller and David da Silva Cornell, Cindy Brown, Richard Milstein, Mary Prados, David Price, Elizabeth F. Schwartz and Trae Williamson. Silent auction coordinator Paul Bauer assembled items from nearly 100 businesses. The auction raised $22,000.

In addition to presenting sponsor Merrill Lynch, the Recognition Dinner was supported by Platinum sponsors the Dade Community Foundation, Express South Florida, Stephen E. Herbits, Merrill-Stevens, Hugh Westbrook & Carole Shields, The Miami Herald, James G. Pepper, Jeff Soref, and Williamson Cadillac-HUMMER; by Gold Sponsors Darden Restaurants, Andrew Tobias & Charles Nolan, and Olive Watson & Joanna Grover/Watson; and by Silver Sponsors Akerman Senterfitt & Richard Milstein, Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Alexrod LLP, Thomas Blount, Samuel S. Blum & Milenko Samardzich, Jerry Chasen & Mark Kirby, James Garbus & Jim Vinett, Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Mario Magcalas, MD, PA, United Way of Miami-Dade and W Fort Lauderdale Hotel & Residences.