Equality Virginia, the commonwealth's chief nonprofit LGBT-rights organization, will recognize seven honorees who have advanced LGBT equality. at its 10th annual Commonwealth Dinner on April 6.
The black-tie gala, which serves as a major fundraiser for the organization, will feature Newark, N.J., mayor and rising Democratic Party star Cory Booker, an outspoken advocate for marriage equality and LGBT rights. This year marks the first time the organization is honoring straight allies in addition to leaders who identify as LGBT.
Equality Virginia also announced on Monday, March 25, that Sen. Mark Warner (D), the state's senior senator, will be attending the Commonwealth Dinner. Warner announced Monday afternoon that he officially supports marriage equality, becoming the 44th senator to offer his advocacy, a day before the U.S. Supreme Court starts hearing challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Those being honored at this year's dinner include Viola Baskerville, of Richmond, who served as a Richmond councilwoman, vice mayor of Richmond, state delegate and secretary of administration under then-Gov. Tim Kaine (D); Ted Heck, a transgender activist from Richmond who helped coordinate the efforts of the Virginia Department of Health and the Transgender Advisory Group of the Virginia HIV Community Planning group; and Guy Kinman Jr., a former Air Force chaplain and the driving force behind the Billboard Project, which helped raise the visibility of the LGBT community through billboards throughout Richmond.
Other honorees include U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Arlington), a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress; Our Own, a Hampton Roads, Va., LGBT newspaper; Charlotte J. Patterson, a researcher for the University of Virginia whose research on the emotional health of children has helped dispel myths about LGBT parents and has been cited in amicus briefs for the two cases being heard by the Supreme Court; and Gregg Smith, a community activist who has helped develop seminars and workshops for clients in same-sex relationships and has been involved with HIV/AIDS service organizations.
Equality Virginia's 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner is Saturday, April 6, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 North 3d St., Richmond. General admission is $125, or $250 for VIP tickets, available online at equalityvirginia.org/dinner through March 29.