'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' takes center stage at the Miami Recognition Dinner

October 13, 2009

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
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Lt. Dan Choi and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, outspoken opponents of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' among featured speakers at the Oct. 17 event

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — The effort to repeal the discriminatory military policy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be at the forefront of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's 13th annual Miami Recognition Dinner, Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), an outspoken advocate for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," will present the National Leadership Award to Lt. Dan Choi, an openly gay Army lieutenant discharged under this discriminatory policy who has become the national face of the repeal effort.

Earlier this year, Choi, a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran fluent in Arabic, announced that he was gay on national television. Because of three words — "I am gay" — Choi's life has changed significantly. Despite his skills and his value as an Arabic speaker one month after his announcement, Choi was notified that the Army had begun discharge proceedings against him. He was one of only eight soldiers from his graduating class who majored in Arabic.

Hastings has been an outspoken critic of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and has forcefully called for its repeal numerous times.

"We are proud that Lt. Choi and Representative Hastings — two courageous and inspirational advocates for LGBT people — will be with us at the Miami Recognition Dinner," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The presence of these two leaders in the effort to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' cast an even greater spotlight on the issue as Congress appears to be preparing to tackle this injustice. This categorical rejection of our country's brave and trustworthy Americans and the continued squandering of their contributions must end."

Also at the Miami Recognition Dinner, the 2009 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award will be presented to Steve Adkins, executive director of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, for bridging the business, nonprofit and LGBT communities in South Florida by educating business owners and elected officials about the need for and value of domestic partner benefits and nondiscrimination policies. The 2009 Humanitarian Award will be given to the Rev. James Trapp, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Unity Churches International, for his contribution as a pro-LGBT religious leader and powerful voice for justice that motivates the broader community to stand up for LGBT rights.

The Miami Recognition Dinner recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural, political and humanitarian needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Launched in 1997, this major fundraising event quickly cemented its place as the premier event for uniting the community and honoring individuals and organizations for their achievements and efforts in fostering equal rights for LGBT people. Over the past decade, it has become a vital source of funding for organizations serving the LGBT community. To date, the Miami Recognition Dinner and its sister event, Winter Party Festival, have raised over $2.1 million.

The Miami Recognition Dinner features two pre-dinner cocktail receptions (one exclusively for VIP ticket-holders), a silent auction, an awards ceremony during dinner and dancing following the program. Grey Goose is donating the spirits for a full bar, and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly is providing the wine.

The 13th annual Miami Recognition Dinner will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, located at 4441 Collins Avenue. Tickets are available for a donation of $200. VIP tickets are $300 and include admission to the VIP cocktail reception and preferred seating during the dinner. Because the Task Force is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations are tax deductible as permissible under law.

All proceeds from the Miami Recognition Dinner benefit organizations serving the LGBT community. The Task Force donates two-thirds of the net proceeds to the Miami-Dade LGBT community through the GLBT Community Projects Fund, a granting program administered by the Dade Community Foundation. The remaining one-third of the proceeds helps fund the Task Force's efforts to achieve equality for all LGBT people.

For more information on the 13th annual Miami Recognition Dinner, visit

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.