The White House has named Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Seelbach as the 2013 Harvey Milk "Champion of Change."
Seelbach accepted the award on Wednesday, May 22 (Harvey Milk Day) at the White House, alongside nine family & friends, including his parents and partner of eight years.
GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) nominated Seelbach for the award.
"GLSEN is proud to celebrate Chris Seelbach being named a Champion of Change," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "His long-standing commitment to support young people, including LGBT youth makes him an outstanding rising leader in public service for The White House to recognize. It's because of dedicated GLSEN supporters like Chris who make our safer schools efforts resonate in communities across the country."
Since Seelbach's historic election to City Council in 2011, Cincinnati has increased by 19 points on the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, the first nationwide evaluation of municipal laws affecting the LGBT community. These efforts include: 1) Extending equal partner health benefits to all city employees; 2) Creating a LGBT liaison in both the police and fire departments; and 3) Making it mandatory for anyone accepting city funding or subsidies to agree, in writing, to follow an inclusive non-discrimination policy.
"I am humbled and proud to be recognized by the White House for my efforts on City Council and extremely grateful to the people of Cincinnati for giving me the opportunity to effect positive change in our community. In order to create a city where more people want to live, work & raise a family, we must continue fighting to make sure all people feel welcomed, valued and respected," said Seelbach.
As a member of Council, Seelbach has lead efforts to: 1) Have all Cincinnati households backed by 100% renewable sources; 2) Ensure job training in MSD's $3,000,000,000 "Project Groundwork;" and 3) Save hundreds of police & fire officers from layoffs (including by cutting his own salary).
Established in 2011, the White House Champions of Change Program honors ordinary citizens who are doing extraordinary things for their community, their country and their fellow citizens. The Harvey Milk Champion of Change award, given out for the first time this year, will honor 10 of these leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to both equality and public service.
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