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Human Rights Campaign’s Los Angeles Dinner Celebrates LGBTQ+ Advocacy and Unity

Notable Figures Gathered to Champion LGBTQ+ Rights and Combat Discrimination

By Aneesha Pappy 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, brought together more than 650 LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters for its annual Los Angeles Dinner at the Fairmont Century Plaza.

This year’s event featured a powerhouse lineup of talented, influential advocates, including Academy Award nominee and three-time Emmy Award-winning actor and producer Sterling K. Brown, Tony, Grammy, and seven-time Emmy nominated actress Jean Smart, and long-time LGBTQ+ advocate and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. 

Other special guests included co-founder of The Roots Tariq Trotter, Moonlight co-writer and LGBTQ+ playwright Tarell Alvin McCrane, actress, writer, and star of HACKS Hannah Einbinder, and comedian Dana Goldberg.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Dr. Jill Biden speaks onstage during the 2024 Human Rights Campaign dinner at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

First Lady Jill Biden delivered the keynote speech addressing the growing rise of anti-LGBTQ+ political attacks and the path forward toward full equality.

“We can’t, and we won’t refight the fights of the past. Today, this community is under attack. Rights are being stripped away. Freedoms are eroding. More and more state laws are being passed targeting this community… Yes, the MAGA extremists are seeking to erase these hard-fought gains. Trying to unwind all the progress that we’ve made. They want us to be afraid. They want to take our victories away. But we won’t let them. And we will win today, tomorrow, and all of the days after. Until all of the people in all of the places can live freely, surrounded by love.”

Sterling K. Brown, American Fiction actor and star of NBC’s critically acclaimed series This is Us, received the Ally for Equality Award for his unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ advocacy.

“We have got to recognize the interconnectedness of our struggles. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice cannot be seen as separate battles; they are inextricably intertwined… The intertwined fights for civil rights have already come a long way since Stonewall. But the fight is still ongoing, and this rich, interconnected history teaches us that the only way forward is together. Liberation cannot be exclusionary, and it certainly cannot be achieved alone. Fighting racism and fighting discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is a fight we are all a part of– because injustice for one is an injustice for everyone… Because whether you are a person of color or part of the LGBTQ+ community, both or neither– this is our fight, our freedom must be shared, and our allyship to each other must be unwavering.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Jean Smart speaks onstage during the 2024 Human Rights Campaign dinner at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

Jean Smart, actress in the HBO Max comedy series HACKS and Emmy winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, received the National Equality Award for her long history of dedication and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“Traits that are considered weaknesses are often signs of great heroism. Many who are viewed as flawed are really the strongest and bravest among us. The level of self-knowledge and personal strength that it takes to fight for yourself, especially when no one else will, is beyond measure. To fight the fear and ignorance of an uneducated world takes enormous self-love… Knowledge is power. And we need to stop being afraid, understand and try to learn from each other. Let’s all try to be patient, let’s try to be tolerant, let’s try to be kind– without exception.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Kelley Robinson, President, Human Rights Campaign speaks onstage during the 2024 Human Rights Campaign dinner at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

HRC President Kelley Robinson gave a speech addressing the current state of emergency facing the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of political engagement in the wake of the upcoming 2024 Presidential election.

“This fight for LGBTQ+ equality is fundamentally a fight for our very democracy. And it’s all of this progress we’ve made over the last ten years, twenty years, forty years, and one hundred years that is at stake right now, right in this very moment. Last year, for the first time ever, the Human Rights Campaign declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans. And this year, that emergency continues… As parents, we send our children off to school each day, hoping and praying that they will come home unharmed and alive. That did not happen for Nex [Benedict]… It’s past time for the removal of Superintendent Ryan Walters. This week, HRC launched an all-out campaign– we are on the ground in Oklahoma, activating the community. And guess what, they don’t want him there either– this week, we released a poll showing that the majority of Oklahomans want him removed. We’re gonna make it happen and send a clear message– if you come for our kids, we are coming for you.”

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