Supporters give more than $1m to Inslee and Approve R-74 campaigns
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
September 15 marked a milestone for LGBTQ and allied Seattleites. Over $1 million was raised that day, between the Jay Inslee for Governor luncheon featuring former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Gala - which pulled in $300,000 for Washington United for Marriage, the campaign working to Approve Referendum 74 in November and ratify the state's marriage equality law.
The connection between the two events is easy to make. Inslee supports the freedom to marry while his opponent, Republican Rob McKenna, does not, and Washington United for Marriage was the beneficiary of this year's HRC Seattle gala.
$750K FOR JAY INSLEE
Former President Bill Clinton arrived in Seattle on September 15 having just given a boost to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, by lending his political backing and formidable speaking skills as one of the headliners at the Democratic National Convention. On Saturday he did the same for Washington's Democratic candidate for governor, Jay Inslee.
Inslee, a seven-term congressman, is facing Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in one of the closest gubernatorial races in the nation this year. Heading into the weekend, each had raised about $8.6 million, but Clinton's appearance added $750,000 to Inslee's tally, his campaign said.
Clinton spoke to more than 3,000 people at the Washington state convention center, telling them that Inslee is the candidate to vote for. Specifically, he praised Inslee's 75-point plan for the economy.
'It makes an enormous amount of sense,' Clinton said. 'If you make Jay Inslee your governor, he'll try to do every single one of those 75 things on that list he gave you.'
Tickets started at $150, and attendees could get their picture taken with the former president for $5,000.
Other speakers included Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who criticized Republican views on abortion, health care, and environmental protection. They portrayed McKenna as a polarizing figure who opposes same-sex marriage.
$300K TO APPROVE R-74
Human Rights Campaign Seattle, the local arm of the national LGBTQ organization, asked people to join them September 15 for a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the course of history and to make equality count.'
'These are important times,' HRC Seattle says on its website, pointing out the many battles the LGBT community is fighting around the country, including the federal court cases pending in California and other states regarding marriage equality; the anti-equality constitutional amendments proposed in Minnesota and recently passed in North Carolina; and the marriage-rights ballot measures in Maine, Maryland, and here in Washington.
On September 15, the 2012 HRC Seattle Gala, which featured a dinner and auction at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Seattle, raised $300,000 for Washington United for Marriage and the Approve Referendum 74 campaign.
Chad Griffin, HRC's newly elected president, attended the event along with local politicians, LGBTQ community leaders, and other supporters.
MILK DIRECTOR HONORED
Screenwriter, producer and director Dustin Lance Black (Milk) was honored at the gala with the HRC Visibility Award. Black is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which is leading the federal case against Prop 8 in California with lawyers David Boise and Ted Olson. Black also serves on the board of the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ teen suicide hotline providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth.
Since winning an Oscar in 2009, Black has been on an equal-rights speaking tour across the country, and he also helped organize the LGBT March on Washington in October 2009, where he spoke to an audience of over 150,000 demonstrators. His Seattle speech was hailed as the highlight of the evening - overshadowed, of course, only by the fact that the event raised $300,000 for Approve R-74.
'Dustin Lance Black gave a stunning speech,' SGN Publisher George Bakan said. 'He was on fire - very, very personal and to the point. Impressive. He brought great focus as to the 'why' of our efforts in our movement, to change all the old injuries, to those stuck in the closet and living with fear.'
For more information about HRC Seattle, visit www.hrcseattle.org. For information about the Human Rights Campaign's work nationwide, visit www.hrc.org.
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