Georgia Equality fetes gay do-gooders

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State Rep. Karla Drenner and Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunnigham were among the openly gay elected officials on hand Saturday for Evening for Equality.

Do some good work on behalf of LGBT causes and you might just get feted one day in an upscale cocktail reception with a room full of boldface names.

That was the scene Saturday during the fifth annual Evening for Equality from Georgia Equality, the statewide gay rights group that tries to do good by the gays despite working from an island of political blue in a sea of red.

But back to those boldface names at the event, which took place inside the cavernous W Atlanta-Midtown that housed several events during Stonewall Week. The event, as is often the case, attracted a long list of LGBT elites and elected officials among the crowd estimated at organizers to be about 200 people.

Among the elected officials: Lisa Borders, the Atlanta City Council president who hopes voters give her a promotion to mayor in November. Neither of the other two major mayoral candidates — state Sen. Kasim Reed and City Council member Mary Norwood — were on hand, though Reed did have campaign staffers in the room.

imageSeveral of the region’s openly gay elected officials were there, too, including state Sen. Karla Drenner, Doraville City Council member Brian Bates and Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham. At least two others who want to be in that group were also present — Atlanta City Council candidate Alex Wan (right photo, top) and Kyle Williams (right photo, bottom), who is campaigning for the Decatur City Commission.

imageOther boldface names on hand included state Sen. Vincent Fort, a vocal supporter of LGBT issues in the General Assembly; Graham Balch, who’s running for the District 39 state Senate seat; Paul Plate, Positive Impact’s executive director; Ken Britt, board co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign; Atlanta City Council member Ceasar Mitchell, who wants to replace Borders as City Council president; Allen Thornell, Georgia Equality’s board chair; Linda Ellis, executive director of the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative; Jamie Ensley, head of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans; restaurateur Phil Palmer, who owns Radial; and Rabbi Josh Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim. Georgia Equality’s executive director, Jeff Graham, served as master of ceremonies.

But beyond rubbing shoulders with some political and LGBT elites, Evening for Equality remained focused on calling attention to a handful of gay do-gooders with its Equality Awards. Four people and one group to be exact:

imageimageCindy Abel (left photo, center) and Paul Horning (right photo, center), past board chairs of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Victory Campaign Fund, were cited for their contributions in helping to elect openly gay candidates around the country.

Ronald Moore, who received accolades for his service with several LGBT organizations, including Project Open Hand, Georgia Equality and Out & Equal.

imageAtlanta PFLAG’s Safe Schools Initiative, awarded for its works in training educators and administrators on dealing effectively with school bullying. Dale Merkle (right photo, center) accepted the award on behalf of the Atlanta Chapter of Parents Friends and Family of Lesbians & Gays

imageSimone Bell (right photo, with Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham), a long-time community organizer, was recognized for her work with the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, Lambda Legal and the Black LGBT Coalition. She was awarded the first-ever Phillip Rush Community Builder Award. Rush, a longtime LGBT activist, died April 28.

A final tally on how much the event raised for Georgia Equality was not available on Saturday.

View the Project Q Atlanta photo album from the event.

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