Annual gala to be held on Saturday, May 30 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco

(San Francisco, California, May 21, 2009) —Creator of the hit TV show The L Word, Ilene Chaiken, will be honored at the 32nd Anniversary Celebration for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on Saturday, May 30, 2009, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. NCLR is the nation’s premier national legal organization committed to advancing the legal and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Always one of the hottest tickets in town, NCLR’s Anniversary Celebration is generating added buzz this year because of our role as lead counsel in the legal challenge to Proposition 8.

NCLR won the landmark California Supreme Court marriage case in May 2008, the first ruling ever issued from a high court that says that LGBTQ people are entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection. The day after Prop 8 passed, NCLR filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme Court to invalidate the measure and restore the freedom to marry. The Court must rule by June 3.

“We have a great to deal to celebrate,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “In the past year alone, we helped win passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a federal hate crimes bill inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, we worked with the National Association to End Homelessness to help homeless youth across the country, we represented and won asylum for eight LGBTQ clients who had experienced persecution in their countries of origin, and we successfully represented the LGBTQ student group at Hastings before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

In addition to celebrating the achievements of the past year, NCLR will honor Ilene Chaiken, the El/La Transgender Latina Program, and client Lara Embry for their commitment to advancing the rights of the LGBTQ community. Chaiken, writer, producer and creator of The L Word will receive the Voice and Visibility Award, which recognizes an individual who has helped to give voice and visibility to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Chaiken has accomplished an extraordinary range of projects throughout her career as a writer and producer working in film and television. With a penchant for storytelling and a passion for her community, Chaiken has been a pioneer in the portrayal of lesbians on television. Chaiken has worked openly as a lesbian in Hollywood for over 25 years
and is internationally known for her creation of the groundbreaking series, The L Word. The L Word cast member Jane Lynch, writer, actress, comedian, and prominent LGBTQ rights advocate, will be in attendance to introduce Chaiken.

Community leaders El/La Transgender Latina Program will receive the Community Empowerment Award, which honors individuals and organizations who have worked to strengthen and empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. El/La was created to provide transgender Latinas in San Francisco with the services they need to improve
their lives, including HIV health education and risk reduction. The program also works to promote the survival and improved quality of life for transgender Latinas in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And NCLR client Lara Embry will be the recipient of the Justice Award, which honors an individual who has shown the courage and perseverance to fight for justice and sacrificed to make broad social change for the LGBTQ community. Embry and her former domestic partner lived in Washington State and had two children together. Each gave birth to one child, and each adopted her non-biological child through a second-parent adoption. The couple later moved to Florida, and their relationship ended several years after that. They agreed to share custody of both children and did so successfully until Embry’s former partner unilaterally decided to separate the children, who are deeply bonded as siblings, and cut off all contact between Embry and one of her children. NCLR represented Embry in her initial suit for shared custody. On May 13, 2009, the Florida Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and held that Florida must give full faith and credit to adoptions granted to same-sex couples by other states, holding that Embry “must be given the same rights as any other adoptive parent in Florida.”

The 32nd Anniversary Celebration is NCLR’s major annual fundraising event that draws a sell-out crowd of 1,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their supporters. Festivities begin at 8 p.m., with the ever-witty Kate Clinton returning by command performance as emcee.

Presenting Sponsors of the Anniversary Celebration include Wells Fargo and AAA Insurance. Our Gold Sponsors are American Airlines: Rainbow and Wolfe Video.

For more information on NCLR’s 32nd Anniversary
Celebration, visit https://www.nclrights.org/2009ann.

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.