(San Francisco, CA, October 20, 2008)—I just found out that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will be honoring Billie Jean King at this year’s Women’s Conference on Wednesday, October 22nd.

I am so proud of both Billie Jean and the state of California for this historic moment.

Billie Jean King has been a full-blown LGBTQ and sports icon since 1966, when she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. In 1973, she beat Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes.” She proved that day that women can rightly be hailed as champions in the sports world. And she’s got the titles to prove it: Billie Jean has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. When she came out as a lesbian in 1981, she forever changed the public’s perception of LGBTQ people in sport, and proved that LGBTQ people are sports heroes, too. She increased LGBTQ visibility and pioneered the way for out LGBTQ people to compete at all levels of sport.

Because of Billie Jean, we’ve come a long way.

I would also like to salute Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver for recognizing an icon of LGBTQ equality. This is the state of California at its best: promoting equality and fairness by honoring a woman who is a hero on so many levels, in every sense of the word.

I hope you will view the webcast on Wednesday to see all of the amazing speakers, but especially to see our own Billie Jean King receive her award between 5-7pm PDT.

I will be clicking through myself with my kids in tow, especially my six-year-old daughter, to watch and tip my hat to Billie Jean.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.