Government shutdown could hamper Equality Awards

October 10th, 2013 | by Erica Felci | Comments

At least two of the Equality Awards’ featured honorees could miss the Saturday event because of the federal government shutdown.

Equality California — the state’s largest advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangendered people — is planning to present the Leadership Award to U.S. Rep. Mark Takano and recognize U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz as the “special guest of honor.”

But the two Democrats may have to stay in Washington this weekend, awaiting votes on a deal that would pass both the Republican-majority House and the Democratically-controlled Senate.

With such a deal still elusive today, event organizers are working on a revamped backup program that included video messages.

“We hope that votes will occur Saturday morning so that honorees can be in the area at the time of our event,” Equality California spokesman Jesse Melgar said in an email.

“If that does not happen, we will expand the entertainment portions of our program, still celebrate the vast contributions of our honorees to equality and make sure that everyone has a fabulous time.”

Officials are also honoring U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius with an Ally in Leadership Award.

Event organizers did not specify whether her schedule also would be impacted by the government shutdown, which started Oct. 1  amid a partisan stalemate over a spending plan and health care reform.

Takano, a Riverside Democrat, is the first LGBT person of color to serve in Congress.

In an email to The Desert Sun today, he said he was “deeply honored” to be recognized, adding that “I look forward to working with Equality California as we continue our march towards justice.”

“It is because of their dedication that we are seeing a massive shift in attitudes and acceptance – a shift that has allowed people like me to become a Member of Congress,” Takano said in the email. “I am a fortunate beneficiary of their hard work and because of that this award is really reflection of their commitment.”

Saturday’s event starts at 6 p.m. at the Riviera Resort and Spa in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $175 a person.

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