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LGBT Civil Rights Summit to Coincide with DNC

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, but LGBT activists maintain there still is work to do.  (Ted Eytan/Wikimedia Commons)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality, but LGBT activists maintain there still is work to do. (Ted Eytan/Wikimedia Commons)
June 1, 2016

PHILADELPHIA - The oldest summit on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights will gather in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention there next month.

Equality Forum will bring together elected officials, newsmakers and experts for four days of panel discussions and commemorations. Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the forum, said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights are at a critical tipping point, facing such issues as achieving marriage equality and the rise of state laws granting religious exemptions that condone discrimination.

"During the Democratic National Convention," he said, "we will have a platform to discuss both the present and the future of the LGBT civil-rights movement."

The forum, to be held July 25-28, will feature four panels consisting of national legal experts, LGBT advocates and political leaders.

While achieving national recognition of marriage equality was a major accomplishment, Lazin said, there still is a long way to go.

"There is no federal workplace protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity," he said, "issues that are facing the senior community, putting an end to reparative therapy."

Lazin said it's time for the LGBT community to get what he called "a place at the table" by the appointment of an openly gay person to a Cabinet-level position in the next administration. While the Democratic Party generally has taken the lead on advancing LGBT civil rights, Lazin noted that there is support from both sides of the aisle, including the current Speaker of the House.

"The last time there was an attempt to amend the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation," Lazin said, "Paul Ryan was among the Republicans that supported that protection."

The summit also will include an awards ceremony and the placing of two historic plaques at Philadelphia landmarks.

More information is online at equalityforum.com.

Andrea Sears/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - PA