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MassEquality honors Speaker DeLeo with Political Icon award

Posted by David Zimmerman  February 10, 2014 09:48 AM

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MassEquality has announced that House Speaker Robert DeLeo will be honored as a Political Icon at their upcoming ICON Awards ceremony. Also receiving awards will be community leader and philanthropist Harry Collings, as MassEquality’s 2014 Philanthropic Icon, and Boston-based, national consumer healthcare advocate, Community Catalyst as the 2014 Community Icon.

The Icon Awards celebrate the exceptional leadership of individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to bettering the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and allies in the Commonwealth through elected office, legislative advocacy and public education and engagement.

Now in its third year, the 2014 Icon Awards gala also will celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts by honoring a special group of individuals, advocates and policy makers whose history-making leadership preserved equal marriage for generations to come by convincing 151 of 200 State House lawmakers to keep the issue off the ballot in Massachusetts.

The awards highlight game-changing allies in MassEquality’s recent efforts to ensure a majority of pro-LGBTQ champions in the State House and secure legislation and policy to end youth bullying, advance protections for transgender people in public spaces, improve HIV/AIDS prevention, support older LGBTQ adults, improve health care access and ensure a fairer workplace for LGBTQ individuals and couples who are disproportionately impacted by efforts to secure equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage, and expand access to workplace sick leave.

“I’m honored to receive this award and to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I’m especially honored to receive this award from MassEquality because without it my partner of 32 years and I would not have had a wonderful wedding to celebrate our relationship,” said Harry Collings.

“Community Catalyst is honored by this recognition and proud to work with MassEquality to advance the rights of the LGBT community. We look forward to continuing our work with MassEquality and other partners around the country to ensure all LGBT individuals and their families have access to high quality, affordable health care,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Rob Restuccia.

“For some of us in the legislature, the fight for marriage equality was incredibly personal, but for all of us, it was transformative,” said Jarrett Barrios, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts and the first openly gay man to serve in the Massachusetts legislature. “We are so honored to be recognized for our work but, to a person, know how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to be part of this historic victory.
“From HIV/AIDS to transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination and health care to marriage equality, each of these awardees has envisioned, initiated and championed campaigns on the most cutting edge issues of our time,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “The honor is all ours to thank them and to hold them up as the standard setters for advancing justice and equality for all LGBTQ people from cradle to grave.”

Political Icon: Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership was central to the successful effort to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill and in ongoing efforts to address the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, end anti-LGBTQ schoolyard bullying, and ensure state support for life-saving social services for older LGBTQ adults, survivors of intimate partner violence and those living with HIV/AIDS. Speaker DeLeo first championed LGBTQ civil rights while working on the House Committee on Ways and Means. He was one of the first state legislators to allocate funds for LGBTQ youth and persisted in these efforts despite receiving hate mail from some of his constituents and from other people across the country. Speaker DeLeo has been outspoken about his commitment to addressing the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness in the Commonwealth.

Philanthropic Icon: Harry Collings
Harry Collings has been the LGBTQ community’s “ambassador” for more than four decades. When the AIDS Action Committee was founded in 1983, Harry led the remarkable all volunteer fundraising effort, and helped build the organization that became one of the most important agencies in the U.S. fighting the AIDS epidemic. Harry went on to manage the first capital campaign for Fenway Health, negotiating the donation of land, commandeering the funds, and overseeing the construction of its first new building in 1991. On the political front, Harry has worked closely with Mayors Kevin White and Ray Flynn and, for 20 years, he has enjoyed a close relationship with his personal friend, Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Philanthropically, Harry has given away almost as much money as he has raised, supporting a wide variety of LGBTQ causes and MassEquality partners such as AIDS Action, Fenway Health, The Theater Offensive and Community Servings. He married his long-time partner, Dan Moon, in 2005.

Community Icon: Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a Boston-based, national consumer health advocacy organization working to ensure that all individuals and communities can influence the local, state and national decisions that affect their health. In the last year, Community Catalyst has championed Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation that serves the needs of LGBTQ individuals and families. This includes ensuring non-discrimination in state-based, partnership and federally-facilitated marketplaces, ensuring consumer assistance programs (such as Navigators) are culturally competent, and influencing the inclusivity of the essential health benefits package. Community Catalyst has been persistent in its efforts to ensure better access to health coverage for LGBTQ individuals and their families, including organizing and leading the effort to ensure access to health insurance coverage for transgender-related medical care.

Special Recognition: Marriage Champions
MassEquality formed in 2002 as a coalition of local and national LGBTQ organizations working to promote marriage equality in the Commonwealth. After the historic Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health court decision in 2003 declared that same-sex couples could not be denied civil marriage rights in Massachusetts, MassEquality and its partners worked until 2007 to keep the decision off the ballot. By securing support from a supermajority of State House lawmakers – an incredible 151 of 200 – to keep an anti-marriage amendment to the state constitution off the ballot on June 14, 2007, MassEquality and its partners succeeded in preserving Massachusetts’ leadership as the first freedom-to-marry state, ensuring marriage equality for generations to come and catalyzing marriage equality victories in dozens of other states across the U.S. as well as the demise of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The 2014 Icon Awards will bring together and salute many of the people who were most influential in the campaign to preserve equal marriage in Massachusetts from 2002 - 2007. This coalition of campaign workers, legislators, advocates and opinion-leaders formed the foundation for MassEquality — and changed the world as we knew it.

CLICK HERE for more information on the MassEquality ICON event.

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!

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