HRC Utah announces gala speakers

President of the Human Rights Commission Joe Solmonese, former U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, singer Crystal Waters and activist Eric Alva will be speaking at this year’s annual Utah HRC Gala Dinner. The dinner is the HRC’s largest fundraising event in Utah and attracts hundreds of people each year. It will be held on June 11 at 6 p.m. in the Grand America Hotel ballroom.

The seventh annual dinner will help raise funds for the HRC, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights across the nation.

“Our gala is an event where friends, family, business and community are recognized for their commitment to the mission to achieve fair and equal treatment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community” said Michael Fifield in a press release, who serves with Sarah Viola and Valerie Larabee as a dinner tri-chair.

Murphy has been serving as a representative from Pennsylvania since 2007 and he was co-sponsor of a bill to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the United States military. He is also a decorated war veteran.

Solmonese has been president of the HRC since 2005 and has led the group through some of the most high-profile and controversial issues since its founding, including the Proposition 8 battle in California. He recently came to Utah to deliver a petition with more than 150,000 signatures to the Mormon Church. The petition challenged statements made by Boyd Packer, the second in command in the Mormon Church organization, that said homosexuality is not a choice and that a loving god would never make his children gay.

Waters became well-known in the early 1990s for her smash hits, “Gypsy Woman” and “100% Love.” She has been a vocal supporter of gay rights and her songs have been pounding through gay and straight dance clubs for two decades.

When the United States Congress was fighting to repeal the military policy banning gays and lesbians for openly serving in the military Eric Alva was a key voice and activist. After being injured in the first wave of ground troops that crossed the border into Iraq in 2003, he received a Purple Heart from the military. After retiring from the military he came out as a gay man and joined the HRC to bring the repeal of the anti-gay policy. He stood over President Obama’s shoulder as he signed the repeal of the discriminatory policy.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to Utah.HRC.org.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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