The Washington Blade gives us a rundown of the highlights from the annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Dinner. Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker made a strong, supportive declaration about what he’d do with the current N.J. marriage equality, which was vetoed by current Governor Chris Christie and is currently awaiting a possible veto over ride vote in the N.J. Legislature:
“I’m going to declare right now that the state of New Jersey — with all of the fiber of my being, with my allies left and right — that we will ensure that marriage equality is signed into law in the state of New Jersey,” Booker said. “And when that bill is signed, I may have a very good seat for it.”
Booker also made reference to the similarities in spirit of equality advocates, no matter what the issue:
Booker also told more than 3,000 attendees in attendance at the dinner — held at the Washington Convention Center — that their “spirit” is the same as the spirit that filled others creating social change in the United States, including those that founded the country, led the Underground Railroad that guided slaves to freedom and organized bus boycotts in the South.
“It is the unconquerable spirit that when some of us in our nation were told you aren’t good enough, this spirit stood and said, ‘Yes I am,’” Booker said.
Actress Sally Field provided another highlight of the evening as she accepted the Ally for Equality award; discussing her gay son Sam Greisman who introduced his mother:
Sam Greisman, who’s gay and Field’s son from her second marriage, introduced his mother prior to her accepting the award on stage. During her speech, Field discussed how her son found success even though “nature” made him different from his two brothers.
“Sam was given colors and innate perceptions that his big brothers simply don’t have,” Field said. “He’s a gentler nature, and it is a gift. Nature made Sam.”
The fundraising part of the Annual Dinner got an extra boost as approximately $390,000 dollars was raised in 20 minutes by attendees after a speech from screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Black’s speech took on another personal tone as he spoke about his older, gay brother who passed away from cancer just weeks before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that Proposition 8; California’s 2008 amendment to their state’s constitution banning gay’s from marriage, was unconstitutional:
“I just wanted to race to the phone and call my big brother and say, ‘My God, we are one step away, we are one step away from the U.S. Supreme Court where my freedom will be your freedom, where my hope is your hope, my liberation is yours, but I couldn’t,” Black said. “I couldn’t because two weeks earlier my brother lost his battle to cancer and he died, and he will never know that feeling of liberation.”