HRC calls itself the "nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization" in the country. This weekend's event, the 13th Annual National Dinner for HRC, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. HRC expects more than 3,000 attendees.
Also on the program line-up is the presentation of the Edward M. Kennedy National Leadership Award, a newly created distinction named in honor of the late senator from Massachusetts, whom HRC memorializes with the appellation "champion in the fight for LGBT equality." Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D – R.I.) will present the award to Judy and Dennis Shepard. HRC says it plans to make this an annual award to distinguish a "unique and valued leader in the fight for LGBT equality."
HRC President Joe Solmonese expressed his pleasure at Obama's participation in the event since Obama has "called upon our nation to embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters." He said that Senator Edward Kennedy was the president's "friend and mentor," remarking on the appropriateness of Obama's address on a night the group will honor the late senator's memory. He said Obama will carry on Kennedy's unfinished work — "equal rights for the LGBT community, and for every person who believes in liberty and justice for all."
Solmonese's latest remarks are more complimentary than those he made in an open letter to Obama in June after the Justice Department upheld the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a lawsuit filed by a homosexual couple. Solmonese expressed feelings that Obama had betrayed the LGBT movement despite strongly supportive statements issued by the White House in favor of the LGBT agenda, and despite the administration's proclaiming June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. Solmonese made his wishes clear, saying, "We call on you to put your principles into action and send legislation repealing DOMA to Congress."
Within days of the HRC letter, the Obama administration announced it would extend benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. In September, the president included homosexual partners raising children in his proclamation of Family Day 2009.
This week, a city councilman introduced a bill to allow same-sex marriages in Washington D.C.