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Obama to address Human Rights Campaign at annual dinner
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Obama to address Human Rights Campaign at annual dinner

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced October 5 that President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at the organization's 13th annual National Dinner in Washington D.C. on October 10.

Obama's appearance at the dinner comes one day before thousands of people are expected to march on Washington in a demonstration calling for greater legal protections for LGBT Americans. HRC, a leading Gay rights advocacy group, represents a show of support for Gay rights at a time when many in the LGBT community have questioned the president's commitment to their issues.

Historically, his appearance will mark the second time a sitting president has spoken at an HRC dinner. The first to speak with the group was former President Bill Clinton in 1997, which, incidentally, was the first time a sitting president had ever directly addressed a Gay rights organization.

Additionally, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy will present the first-ever Edward M. Kennedy National Leadership Award to Judy and Dennis Shepard. The award is named in honor of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a champion in the fight for LGBT equality.

"We are honored to share this night with President Obama, who has called upon our nation to embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "It is fitting that he will speak to our community on the night that we pay tribute to his friend and mentor Senator Edward Kennedy, who knew that, as president, Barack Obama would take on the unfinished business of his nation - equal rights for the LGBT community, and for every person who believes in liberty and justice for all."

Joining President Obama and Rep. Kennedy at this year's dinner are pop music sensation Lady Gaga, the cast members from network TV's Glee, and a performance by Gavin Creel, a two-time Tony Award nominee, currently starring in the Broadway revival of Hair.

The HRC National Dinner is the single largest annual fundraiser for HRC. Not only does it raise essential funds through corporate sponsorship, ticket, raffle, silent auction and program book recognition page sales; but it also is an important event where over 3,000 like-minded and dedicated LGBT people and allies can connect, energize and focus on the work that lies ahead for the community.

HRC is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBT equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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