Press

Honoree Rosie O’Donnell Pledges $100,000 Donation to Task Force in Acceptance Speech

Date: 
September 30, 2003

Task Force Los Angeles Leadership Awards Most Successful to Date

In a significant and heartfelt gesture of support at the 14th Annual National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Leadership Awards held in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 28, honoree Rosie O'Donnell pledged $100,000 and encouraged other people of means to match her gift in support of the work of the Task Force.

In telling about how to speak out against those things that make you angry, (such as anti-LGBT bigotry) O'Donnell said it takes getting to a place that anger takes a back seat and the truth takes a front seat. "As a person who is privileged to have access to a society in which too few get to speak, who has been benefited tremendously from the love of strangers, we need you to talk to your friends and we need you to talk to your family but mostly what you need is money. What does it take to raise a million dollars? Ten millionaires, who will never know the money is missing from their bank account, to stand up and give $100,000 and tonight in honor of Calpernia, David and Antonio, I'm going to give the first $100,000 and ask if there are nine other people who can, please do it."

"We are extremely grateful for Kelli and Rosie O'Donnell's extraordinary gift," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman. "It will enable us to further organize our community and our allies against the anti-gay backlash now being launched by the political and religious right."

In remarks made during the awards ceremony, Matt Foreman thanked the honorees (transgender activist Calpernia Addams, writer/producer David Lee, Kelli and Rosie O'Donnell and Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa) for the difference they've made in the lives of millions of people across the country and told the assembled crowd of the threat the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was facing from the anti-LGBT right wing. Foreman outlined the field work that Task Force staff was currently doing fighting the right in communities across the country, including in Cleveland Heights and Cincinnati OH; Topeka, KS; Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta, GA; and in California.

Fresh off of the success of AB205, the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg called honoree Antonio Villaraigosa's AB1001, which prohibits housing and job discrimination based on sexual orientation "a landmark piece of legislation at the beginning of what was to be a series of steps that led to AB205."

"I say to all of you who are here today in support of this great organization," Villaraigosa said, "our struggle is not over yet, this right wing group of people, whether through misguided faith or misguided political opportunism, want to identify on the head of a pin all the things that make us different. I am proud to walk with you. Join the fight to realize the full and complete civil rights that we need and demand."

"If there is a gay mafia in Hollywood, Frasier star David Hyde Pierce said in introducing honoree and Frasier co-creator David Lee, "then David Lee is the Donna Corleone of network television. When David is around, don't mess with the family." Pierce reminded the audience that among his many accomplishments, Lee lobbied the Writer's Guild to cause it to become the first union to extend domestic partner benefits.

In his acceptance speech, Lee said that LGBT people had become "tolerant of intolerance" and called on LGBT people and organizations to take on anti-LGBT religious extremists and not be afraid to speak out about the "bad guys" even though "the opponents are formidable."

Calpernia Addams asked the television and film people in the audience to represent transgender people fairly, saying, "Please stop writing transgender characters as prostitutes, punch lines and psychos. I think we have a real opportunity in Hollywood to turn things around by writing a portrayal of somebody who is real, has love and passion and is successful."

The evening featured an hors d'oeuvres reception and silent auction, an awards ceremony and VIP post-awards dessert reception.

Following are photos from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Los Angeles Leadership Awards, held in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 28. Media can order these photos through Wire Image. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media should contact Task Force Director of Communications Sheri A. Lunn (media@ngltf.org) directly for images.


Task Force Leadership Awardees (from left) David Lee, Kelli & Rosie O'Donnell, Calpernia Addams and Antonio Villaraigosa.


Leadership Award honorees Antonio Villaraigosa and Rosie O'Donnell.


Matt Foreman delivers keynote at Task Force Leadership Awards.


Kelli & Rosie O'Donnell.


Honoree Calpernia Addams gives her acceptance speech.


Honoree David Lee (left) and presenter David Hyde Pierce (right).


Rosie O'Donnell meets up with Alison Arngrim (Nellie Olsen) of Little House on the Prairie fame.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.