California Assemblyman Mark Leno, Author of Marriage Equality Bill to receive National Leadership Award From the Task Force

October 24, 2005

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

California Assemblyman Mark Leno, Author of Marriage Equality Bill Vetoed by Schwarzenegger, to receive National Leadership Award From National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

'We have not lost faith, and our struggle continues'
—Assemblyman Mark Leno, upon veto of marriage equality bill

MIAMI, Oct. 24 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will present its National Leadership Award to California Assemblyman Mark Leno at the 9th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner on Nov. 5th, at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. The award will honor Leno for his extraordinary role in championing the cause of marriage equality.

Leno made history in November 2002 when he was elected as one of the first openly gay men to the California Assembly. During his first term, Leno was successful in getting 28 bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law, including laws that protect Californians from gender-based discrimination in housing and employment.

This year he became the driving force behind the California Legislature's passage of a marriage equality bill — making it the first U.S. legislative body to support equal rights for lesbian and gay couples who want to enter into the civil institution of marriage. Only a veto by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 29 prevented California same-sex couples from achieving marriage equality. The bill would have ensured equal treatment under the law by allowing same-sex couples to marry, with the same rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples.

Despite the veto, Leno remains undeterred. "While we are extremely disappointed, we have not lost faith, and our struggle continues," he said. "We will continue to fight until our relationships are treated equally and we gain access to the rights and responsibilities of marriage, so that we may create loving, committed, stable homes for ourselves and our children."

Last year, Leno received of the Award of Courage from American Foundation for AIDS Research, and he was honored by the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles at their 25th Anniversary Gala for his commitment to marriage equality. In July 2003, he was honored as Housing Hero of the Year by the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. Additionally, Leno was proud to receive honors from the American Heart Association, the California Association of Food Banks and Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays.

Leno joins an esteemed list of individuals who have been honored at the Recognition Dinner, including U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, actor Sir Ian McKellen and playwright Terrence McNally.

The Recognition Dinner also will feature the presentation of the 2005 Miami Herald Humanitarian Award to Richard C. Milstein, a Miami native and a partner at the law firm of Akerman Senterfitt. Milstein's contributions to the South Florida community are legion, and his philanthropy cuts across South Florida's political, social and cultural landscape. His devotion to helping individuals has impacted the lives of thousands.

Two-thirds of the proceeds from the event will be returned to the Miami-Dade LGBT community through philanthropic grants distributed by the Dade Community Foundation (DCF) for its Lesbian and Gay Community Projects Fund. The remaining one-third will support the Task Force’s efforts to achieve full equality for LGBT people. Earlier this year, the Task Force donated more than $150,000 to DCF, representing proceeds from the 2004 Miami Recognition Dinner and this year's Winter Party Festival.

The 9th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner takes place on Saturday, November 5, at 7:30PM. The evening features a pre-dinner cocktail reception, with entertainment and dancing to follow the evening's program. Tickets are available for a donation of $175, or $250 for VIP preference, and are available at The Loews Miami Beach Hotel is located at 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. For more information, please call 305.571.1924.


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.