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Honorees worked for human rights

Equality Awards set to honor area leaders, groups

A group of community leaders, politicians and local agencies were set to be recognized Thursday for their actions advancing the mission of “human rights, justice and equality for all.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and ally (LGBTQA) centers at three Washington universities, along with the Inland Northwest Business Alliance, planned to present the 2012 Equality Awards in celebration of Spokane Pride’s 20th anniversary.

Among those the group planned to recognize:

• Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, Councilman Jon Snyder and Councilwoman Amber Waldref, for showing support for same-sex marriage through a nonbinding resolution at a council meeting that drew hundreds of people in April. The resolution did not pass.

“There’s a lot of folks working very hard to make Spokane a better place to live and their efforts are really standing on the shoulders of decades and decades of work by people here in Spokane,” Snyder said. “You don’t need to move to live in a better, more accepting city.”

• State Rep. Andy Billig, State Rep. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s senior policy adviser, for their role in the passage of Washington’s marriage equality bill in the last legislative session. In early June, the law was blocked from taking effect when opponents filed enough signatures to put it to a public vote in November.

• Gov. Chris Gregoire, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, and Brown, for their roles in Washington State’s anti-discrimination laws, comprehensive sex education law, hate crimes law, domestic partnership law, and anti-bullying law, according to a news release.

• Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, the first openly gay service member to successfully challenge the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and be reinstated in the armed services.

• Helen Bosner and PFLAG, for creating and leading Spokane’s first Pride Parade in 1992.

• Inland Northwest Clergy for Inclusion, for creating spiritual communities for people of all genders and sexualities.

• Rich Cowan, North by Northwest co-founder, for producing Spokane’s first LGBT film for national audiences, “Oy Vey, My Son is Gay,” released in 2010.

• Odyssey Youth Center, founded as a program of the Spokane Regional Health District in 1992, for providing a safe place, education, and advocacy, and empowering LGBTQA youth.