Task Force to honor U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

The Task Force will honor U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis for her longtime support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and the leadership she has provided in her current position to advance equal treatment under the law in employment practices for LGBT workers. It will be the first time the secretary of labor will be given an award by a national LGBT rights organization. Solis will be honored at the Pink & Purple Recognition Awards Brunch, taking place at the Mayflower Hotel on Sunday, June 5 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

“Secretary Solis has been a strong and longtime advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “From each position she has held, Solis has made it clear that LGBT people are part of the fabric of this country and that we cannot move forward unless all of us are treated equal. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to honor her.”

Solis has a long history of supporting the rights of LGBT people, including protecting her own employees from discrimination at the Department of Labor. In April 2011, she issued an order to change the departmental equal employment statement to add gender identity as a protected category. The policy, while internal to the Department of Labor, applies to all hiring, promotion and disciplinary practices for employees of the agency.

In 2010, the Department of Labor made it clear that the Family and Medical Leave Act rules are inclusive of same-sex couples raising children, a recognition of the importance family plays in the lives of LGBT people. Solis brought awareness to the bullying and harassment of young LGBT people by organizing and issuing a departmental “It Gets Better” video in both English and Spanish. In June 2009, Solis responded to the vandalism of Pride Month materials by stating publicly that all people are respected at the Department of Labor.

At the Pink & Purple Recognition Awards Brunch, Skip Roberts, assistant director of Government Affairs at Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will also be honored. He has played a huge role in landmark victories for the LGBT movement at the local and state level from equal rights in Kalamazoo, Mich., to civil unions in Hawaii, as well as on the federal level, working on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Other honorees include Deacon Maccubbin and Jim Bennett, founder and owners of the former Lambda Rising Bookstore. They helped found many youth, social and business organizations in and around the D.C. area.

The Pink & Purple Recognition Awards Brunch is the signature event of Pink & Purple Weekend, a weekend of diverse events for the LGBT community. Other events are Pink & Purple Sunset: a Women’s Event atop the Donovan House Hotel on Friday, June 3 from 6-10 p.m. The event features three local lesbian DJs: vAnniety Kills, Natty Boom and JuneBullet, as well as burlesque performances by the DC Gurly Show.

Also, on Saturday, June 4, the Task Force will be holding Pink & Purple Power: a Training from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. This training, taught by the Task Force’s Academy for Leadership and Action, will build skills of local activists. Guests will have an opportunity to attend workshops on volunteer leadership development, sexuality, HIV, race in D.C., and bridging the youth/elder divide.

Sponsorships, tickets and hosting opportunities are all available online at www.theTaskForce.org/pinkandpurple.