Saturday, October 01, 2011

HRC Annual Dinner in Washington hosts President Obama, Michael Bloomberg, Tammy Baldwin, Cyndi Lauper

President Obama spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Annual Dinner tonight. This was the 15th Annual Dinner.  I had attended one other HRC Dinner here in DC, and one in Minneapolis right after 9/11, when I met the governor Jesse Ventura personally. 

Personally, I had encountered a couple delays on the Metro and got there too late to go through security. So us latecomers watched it in the lobby, then were let in.  I guess I was lucky, because the  “About” column at the HRC website warns guests that they will not be allowed into the event space if they don’t arrive to register by 6:30 PM (early for such events).  I should have read this Saturday.  It's tough in a city with deteriorating Metro service with so many outages and delays (wasn't a problem ten years ago).  Thankfully, that policy wasn’t enforced. Over 3000 people attended and the event did sell out (at $250 a ticket and up).

The audio of the president's speech in the lobby (for latecomers) was muffled, but here is an important quote from the Huffington Post (story by Amanda Terkel, link).

"We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the president of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don't believe in that.”

Obama talked about ending DOMA (as well as the success in ending "don't ask don't tell") but he didn’t completely endorse gay marriage.  His reluctance to do so created controversy in the media and CNN was already discussing this when I got home after 11 PM. He did talk about the need for everyone to do his fair share to restore the economy, and obvious jab at the GOP.

Before the main course, Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke, passionately, about equal rights and that government should not interfere with the relationships that people have or even how they are licensed (almost in the spirit of GLIL’s famous “License Expired” essay in 1996). He said that New York was an economic engine because it had always been the place you could be what you wanted to be.  (That may not have been true in the 60s at the time of the World’s Fair, and all the raids and payoffs at the Mafia-controlled bars then.)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) spoke. Here is her record on the issues (link).  But Baldwin has actually sometimes been known for tough talk on areas of personal responsibility and protecting children.
A clip of Suze Orman was shown.

A good part of the program was an auction for four huge overseas trips, to South Africa, Russia, a cruise, and Thailand.

Cyndi Lauper then provided entertainment, after re-introducing Joe Solomonese, with “Time after Time”.

At the After Party, I met a young-looking man from Oregon who said he does home automation and claimed to be from another planet, 30 light years away.  It sounded like a conversation from a David Lynch movie (maybe "Lost Highway"). But I can't prove him wrong.  He said he was 45 but that angels don't age. 

As I left, HRC volunteers gave out backpacks of corporate sponsor stuff, which meant I couldn't readily go anywhere else without being near my car (in Arlington) to unload it.  

But, this is a time for celebration. And for caution as we look to the dangerous 2012 election season, with a trying economy for so many people. 

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