2004 HRC dinner ‘Big Fab’ success

By |2018-01-16T15:59:06-05:00April 11th, 2004|Uncategorized|

DETROIT – About 550 people gathered at The Atheneum Hotel at the Greektown Casino for the 2004 Human Rights Campaign Gala Event dinner Oct. 30.
Dinner Chair Gary Baglio said the evening was “sold-out.”
Although the total amount raised for HRC was not in at press time, according to Baglio, “It’s in the six figures.” In addition to ticket sales and donations, the silent auction raised over $17,000.
“I’m not trying to brag or pat myself on the back,” said Baglio, “but this event exceeded all of my expectations and goals.”
One of Baglio’s goals was to make people realize how much the work of HRC, a national organization, impacts the LGBT community locally.
Cheryl Jacques, the president of HRC and the evening’s “matron of honor,” presented Wendy Howell, campaign director for the Coalition for a Fair Michigan, with a check for funds to help fight the anti-gay Proposal 2.
“I think that people were really excited to see that HRC had contributed $350,000 to the Coalition and I think that spoke directly to the notion that the money doesn’t come back to our state and that was proof that it does,” said Baglio.
“We are so proud to be with you,” Jacques told the attendees. “This comes from the heart of all of the HRC membership.”
In accepting the check, which was only ceremonial as the actual funds had already been dispersed to maximize their impact in the election, Howell said, “From the bottom of my heart, I believe that next Tuesday Michigan is going to vote down Proposal 2.” She also thanked Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz, co-publishers of Between The Lines, Sean Kosofsky of the Triangle Foundation, Michael Gibson-Faith of the American Friends Service Committee, and “our allies in the labor community.”
Jacques outlined the history of the historic defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment this year in both the U.S. Senate and House. The presentation included video of news footage and interview segments.
No matter what the outcome Tuesday, Jacques said, “This isn’t a question of if, this is a question of when. We are going to win our battle for equality.”
“I believe with every bone in my body that America will fulfill her promise of fairness and equality for all. She always does in time and now it’s our time,” she said.
“Mama of Ceremonies” Miss Lainie Kazan performed a toast and entertained with her vocal and comedic talents. In addition to various films, Broadway roles, and television appearances, Kazan played “Mama” in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
“It’s allowed me to add ‘Fundraiser Party Theme’ to my resume,” she joked, referring to the evening’s theme: My Big Fab Gay Wedding.
Syndicated columnist Deb Price spoke about Proposal 2. Price is the first-ever writer to have a syndicated gay-issues column in mainstream newspapers, one of which is The Detroit News.
Price said that if Proposal 2 were to pass it would be certain to be met with legal challenges.
If proponents of the amendment thought they wanted to keep judges out of the definition of marriage, she said, “I think they should read the ballot proposal they wrote.”
Price also urged those in attendance to come out. “The most powerful ammunition we have as a community is ourselves,” she said. She also encouraged Michiganders to go to Canada to get married.
Also speaking at the event was “Best Man” Billy Bean, a former Major League Baseball player and Detroit Tiger who came out after leaving baseball. Bean talked of living as a closeted baseball player and the negative impact it had on his personal and professional life.
Bean shared an especially painful story of watching his partner die at the hospital. Not out to anyone on his team, he played his scheduled game that day. After the game Bean was told he was being sent to the minor leagues.
Bean recalled meeting Judy Sheppard soon after he came out publicly. “This is the destiny of your life,” she told him.
“One person can change your entire life,” said Bean, adding, “I’m no more of a role model than anyone else in this room.”
Other notable guests at the event included Senator Carl Levin, Congressman Sander Levin, and Congressman John Dingell.
According to Baglio, planning for next year begins Nov. 2.
“We’ve got a great committee of guys,” said Baglio, adding, “We really would love to have some women working on this event with us. When we get together to plan these things it’s more of a party than a meeting.”
Baglio said people should expect next year’s event to top 2004’s success. “I hope everyone looks forward to next year because it’s going to be even better.”

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