Diversity Honors presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, has announced its honorees for this year’s globally renowned celebration that benefits Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park and recognizes those who are transforming lives by living authentically and advancing inclusiveness.
The 5th anniversary gala taking place on March 30 at 7 p.m. will recognize TV personality, political blogger and best-selling author Meghan McCain as the recipient of the Harvey Milk Foundation Lilla Watson Medal. Army Captain Jennifer Peace and Staff Sergeant Patricia King will receive the Harvey Milk Foundation Valor Award. Other honorees include Congressman Ted Deutch, Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, and Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE plus the Wilton Manors City Commission will receive The Pride Center Alan Schubert Award of Excellence. The special event will be emceed by NBC 6 anchor Jamie Guirola with awards presented by Stuart Milk as the co-founder and Board President of the Harvey Milk Foundation.
Meghan McCain is a co-host of ABC’s The View and the daughter of Senator John McCain. Often said to possess the McCain “maverick gene,” Meghan has no qualms saying what is on her mind and brags that she inherited “my dad’s heartburn-inducing ability to say what he thinks.” A powerful voice for women and Republicans, alike, McCain passionately advocates for women’s issues, social issues and marriage equality. Prior to joining The View, McCain was a co-host on the afternoon talk program Outnumbered on the Fox News Channel. She was also a co-host on Pivot TV’s late-night news program TakePart Live. McCain was also the creator, executive producer and host of the genre-busting docuseries Raising McCain which also aired on Pivot. An award-winning political blogger, McCain was a columnist for The Daily Beast and an MSNBC contributor. A New York Times best-selling author, McCain wrote and published her first book, “Dirty Sexy Politics: A True Story” in 2010 followed by a children’s book, both of which were inspired by her time on the campaign trail during her father’s presidential run. McCain’s most recent book, “America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom,” recounts the cross-country road trip that she and left-wing comedian Michael Ian Black embarked upon together in 2011.
Army Captain Jennifer Peace and Staff Sergeant Patricia King will receive the Harvey Milk Foundation Valor Award. Both Army Captain Jennifer Peace and Staff Sergeant Patricia King, openly transgender service members, were two of the panelists who bravely and eloquently testified during the historic congressional hearing on open trans military service on February 27, 2019.
Congressman Ted Deutch represents Florida’s 22nd district in the House of Representatives, home to communities throughout southern Palm Beach County and Broward County. He is proud to represent a significant LGBTQ community, including the city of Wilton Manors. Prior to running for Congress, Deutch served two terms in the Florida State Senate, where in 2008 he helped pass an employment non-discrimination bill through a committee for the first time in Florida’s history. In Washington, he has risen as a strong advocate for the LGBT community, both domestically and around the world. He serves as a vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and chair of the LGBT Aging Issues Task Force. Deutch helped introduce the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, which would amend the Older Americans Act (OAA) to better represent and serve LGBT seniors. In 2017, he helped push the Department of Health and Human Services to reinstate sexual orientation demographic questions as part of their National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP). He is also an original cosponsor of the comprehensive Equality Act to extend federal protections to LGBTQ people. Deutch is the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism and a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Phill Wilson is the former president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. Prior to its founding, Wilson served as AIDS coordinator for the City of Los Angeles from 1990 to 1993, and director of policy and planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles from 1993 to 1996. He was co-chair of the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission from 1990 to 1995 and was an appointee to the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee from 1995 to 1998. He was the coordinator of the International Community Treatment and Science Workshop at the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th International AIDS Conferences in various countries. Wilson was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. He has been involved in the founding of numerous AIDS service organizations including the Chris Brownlie Hospice, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the National Minority AIDS Council. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the 1994 World AIDS Summit in Paris, and has worked extensively on HIV/AIDS policy, research, prevention, and treatment issues across the globe. The Ford Foundation named Wilson one of the 20 award recipients for the Leadership for a Changing World, in 2001. A published author, Wilson is a Discovery Health Channel Medical Honoree and was named one of the “2005 Black History Makers in the Making” by Black Entertainment Television.
As executive director of SAVE, Florida’s longest-serving LGBTQ advocacy organization, Antonio “Tony” Lima, has become an internationally recognized leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Under his guidance, SAVE has secured the most significant wins towards LGBTQ equality in the organization’s 25-year history. In 2016, SAVE was nationally recognized in both the journal Science and The New York Times for its groundbreaking prejudice reduction work for transgender equality. The year prior, SAVE successfully sued the state of Florida to legalize same-sex marriage, and in 2014, SAVE passed comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender individuals at the Miami-Dade County Commission. In 2012, Lima was named “Top Latino Leader” by Latino Leaders magazine and the following year he was recognized as a “Top 20 Under 40” by Brickell magazine. Lima received the “Pink Flamingo Award” for “Best Activist” from the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. South Florida Gay News recognized Lima as the “Best Activist” in South Florida for 2015, 2017 and 2018. Also, in 2018, he received the Trans Latina Coalition Ally Award, and the Miami Dolphins honored him with the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.
Incorporated in 1953, the City of Wilton Manors in Broward County has grown into a bustling, vibrant LGBT+ hub. Recently named the “Second Gayest City” in the United States, Wilton Manors celebrates a diverse population of approximately 12,000 residents with an all-gay city commission comprised of Mayor Justin S. Flippen, Vice Mayor Tom Green, Commissioner Gary Resnick, Commissioner Julie A. Carson and Commissioner Paul Rolli who set leadership examples for younger LGBT+ activists and advocates. For the fifth consecutive year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has awarded Wilton Manors with a perfect score of 100 in the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI). It is also an “MEI All-Star,” receiving a high score in a state without LGBT+ supportive laws. The City of Wilton Manors offers shopping, hip restaurants and bars, a burgeoning arts community and numerous community events, yet still maintains a cozy, community-feeling offering miles of natural waterways perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding and other outdoor activities.
This collaborative effort between the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park, along with generous support from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, has put South Florida on the international stage of LGBT+ rights and activism in honor of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States who was assassinated shortly after winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This year marks the 41st anniversary of Harvey Milk’s historic service.
“It is a privilege for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood to present, produce and celebrate the fifth anniversary of Diversity Honors,” said Susan Renneisen, vice president of community affairs and special events for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. “A sold-out event every year, we are humbled by the growing support for this initiative that highlights tolerance, acceptance and leadership for change to ensure equality, inclusiveness and a higher quality of life for LGBT+ communities across the globe.”
Over the years, Diversity Honors has paid tribute to an impressive roster of honorees including civil rights activists Dolores Huerta, president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez, and Judy and Dennis Shepard, recipients of the Harvey Milk Foundation Honors Medal; Bollywood star Celina Jaitly and Ireland Senator Dr. David Norris who both received the Harvey Milk Foundation’s Lilla Watson Global Champion Medal; the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Gay-Straight Alliance, transgender YouTube viral inspiration Ryland Whittington, and transgender teen activist Jazz Jennings – all recipients of the annual Harvey Milk Foundation Milan Rozsa Award plus singer/actress Deborah Cox, Judge Rand Hoch, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mayor Dean Trantalis, Patrick Piana, CEO of Stoli Group USA and others.
The evening will commence with an elegant cocktail reception featuring an interactive balloon pop and raffle of more than 200 luxury items followed by a seated dinner with open bar, the awards presentation and live entertainment. A decadent Stoli After-party will follow featuring Debby Holiday, a multiple Billboard-charting dance artist/singer/songwriter, plus desserts, dancing and flowing spirits.
Diversity Honors presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is sponsored by DMK – Danne Montague-King, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Stoli Vodka, Levi’s®, Macy’s, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Miami Foundation, GPR | Goodman Public Relations, Hotspots! magazine, Gold Coast magazine, SunTrust, NBC 6 South Florida, It’s Happening Out, Ludwig Framemakers, Lightship Media, Michael Murphy Photography and Fast Printz.
Tickets are $250 per person, plus a service fee, for the black-tie optional event. To reserve tickets or for more information, please visit DiversityHonors.com.