Sunday, October 07, 2012
HRC National Dinner for 2012: the speakers this year made many important points
The HRC National Dinner for 2012 (sometimes called "annual dinner"), at the Convention Center in Waashington DC, wasn’t quite as huge as that in 2011, but it featured addresses or speeches with real substance this year.
Chad Griffin (Human Rights Campaign president) started out (when I hear the name “Chad” I keep thinking of the anger in the young male character in “Days of our Lives”), and soon introduced Newark NJ major Corey Booker. I thought about the days in the fall of 1972 when I had worked in downtown Newark at Public Service for Univac. And I thought about the meeting of the People’s Party of New Jersey in a drafty rowhouse in Newark that December. Speakers can bring back memories, although I don’t know my New Jersey politics today. I memorized the name (not a “Looker” or “Looper” but “Booker”).
Booker said that he had been taught by his parents not to take for granted the world that he had inherited from others but did not create. It was his responsibility to make it better. It was also possibly his responsibility to be able to participate in defending it. He wound up with a reference to Thomas Jefferson.
Screenwriter Justin Lance Black (“Milk”) taught about his own upbringing in Texas and Virginia. When he was of college age, he made a visit home in Virginia to family that had raised him as Mormon (like Bryce Harper, I thought). His mother upset him with a comment that “don’t ask don’t tell” was objectionable not because of discrimination, but because it allowed gays to hide in the military and keep secrets, when they weren’t (I use the subjunctive mood in reporting by hearsay what she said) worthy of service or even citizenship. That was a shocking comment. But later his mother visited him where he lived in California and had a change of heart when she met his real friends. His mother was left with wondering why the LDS church insisted on making such personal demands on people – but that sort of answers its own question.
Black also said that it was important to win the “gay marriage” referendums, differently posed, in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State, and to raise money to place ads for these votes. He said that the Supreme Court would eventually rule on the matter, and that the Supreme Court would notice the results of the elections. The Court, he said, likes to be two steps ahead of the public, not four steps, when decided how far to defer to popular political judgments. .
Actress Sally Field accepted and HRC award from her 25-year-old youngest son Sam, and said that parents need to learn from the children that they bring into the world. HRC showed a montage of her films, including “Forest Gump”.
Jessie Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family” spoke. I believe that a few cast members were present in the audience and in the clubs this weekend.
No one spoke in detail about the 2011 repeal of "don't ask don't tell", which could be jeopardized if the GOP sweeps into office in November.
During dinner, “Cirque du Soleil” performed (see drama blog).
Most of the audience (about 2000 people, a sellout) was local. But a man from Michigan took note of the progress of the Detroit Tigers baseball game on my cell phone (the Tigers won, and, yes, pitcher Justin Verlander is cute). One person at my table was a student at William and Mary, and I mentioned GALA (see Oct. 23, 2011).
The dinner was interesting, as there was choice between chicken, vegetarian, or vegan. Having heard Bill Clinton talk about diet, I tried vegan. A Portebello mushroom made up the heart pf the meal.
The silent auction was conducted by a text messaging system. The matched contribution session, following a short auction, was conducted by a similar system, with a running total and names of donors and table numbers posted on the screen. I think this session raised about $200000.
There was an After Party, but it appeared this year you needed to purchase a specific ticket for it.
One of the prizes from the raffle was a Lexus.