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Aug 12, 2005

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Volume 33
Issue 32

 
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ACLU, Northwest Women's Law Center receive leadership award
ACLU, Northwest Women's Law Center receive leadership award
by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and the Northwest Women's Law Center received Lambda Legal's Leadership Award during Lambda's annual Seattle Garden Party on Thursday, August 4. The two organizations were recognized for their efforts to secure equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The annual garden party is a major fundraiser for Lambda Legal, each year attracting a big crowd of supporters. Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle attorney and a member of Lambda's national board of directors, said that an exact dollar amount of the money raised had not yet been calculated as pledges are still coming in, but he said the event this year was one of the best attended garden parties to date.

"In this year, when there has been such a broad community effort to work on securing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples - this seemed like a particularly good time to break with our tradition of honoring only individuals - and really to reach out and honor the organizations that are doing great work; fighting for our issues," said Pedersen. "We wanted to acknowledge the longtime partners that Lambda has in advancing the rights of Lesbian and Gay people in Washington State. The Northwest Women's Law Center and the ACLU have been working on our issues for more than 25 years."

Currently, the three organizations are awaiting a Washington State Supreme Court decision on two lawsuits, which had been combined for oral arguments. The ACLU filed their lawsuit in Thurston County on behalf of 11 same-sex couples from across the state who wish to marry in Washington. The Northwest Women's Law Center and Lambda legal are also representing eight couples in a lawsuit filed in King County.

"We are definitely honored to receive this award from Lambda Legal. We are very happy to be working in partnership with them and the Law Center on marriage litigation," said ACLU Field Director Genevieve Aguilar. "We have been working on marriage equality since 1971, when we first brought Singer [v. Hara] before the courts. We hope this time around we can get a win, because it is time for Washington to have equal marriage rights."

The event featured hors d'oeuvres, refreshments, and speeches from ACLU Executive Director Kathleen Taylor, Northwest Women's Law Center Executive Director Lisa Stone and Lambda Legal Director Jon Davidson. Gov. Christine Gregoire made a guest appearance.

Gregoire told the attendees that she was glad that the contentious election battle was over. She also spoke of her efforts to obtain passage of the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill during the legislative session. She pledged that she would continue to work every year to ensure its passage as long as she's the governor.

"I think we are very lucky she won the election," said Pedersen. "I think she is really a friend of our community. Judging for what she had to say, I have no doubt."

Lambda Legal is a national organization seeking to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.



PHOTO CAPTIONS:

1. Jamie Pedersen, a member of Lambda's national board of directors, introduces Gov. Christine Gregoire

2. Northwest Women's Law Center Executive Director Lisa Stone
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