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Long Beach Senator Lara, Redondo Beach Mayor Gin to be honored at White House


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, and Redondo Beach Mayor Michael A. Gin will be among 10 openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elected or appointed officials who will be honored at the White House today as Harvey Milk Champions of Change for their commitment to equality and public service.

Lara became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the California Senate in 2012. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010 and became the first LGBT chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus.

Lara was a member of the Los Angeles Planning Commission and member of the staffs of Assemblymen Marco Antonio Firebaugh, Fabian Nuñez and Kevin de Leon before being elected to the Assembly.

“I am humbled to be included among such an amazing array array of LGBT leaders,” Lara said. “The fact that three Californians are being honored is telling of the essential role that California plays in advancing equality.

“Though much has changed since Harvey Milk’s time, we still have an incredible sense of responsibility to live up to the promises of change that he lived and died for.”

The third Californian to be honored is state Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, a former assemblyman and Santa Cruz mayor and councilman.

Gin said being honored with an award bearing Milk’s name “is extremely humbling to me and perhaps will be one of the greatest honors I think that I will ever receive.”

“Supervisor Milk made it possible for me to live in a world where out members of the LGBT community can serve their communities and our nation openly and proudly,” said Gin, who will leave office next week because of term limits after being Redondo Beach’s mayor since 2005.

The ceremony coincides with the 83rd anniversary of the birth of Milk, who became the third openly gay elected official in the United States and the first in California when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated in 1978.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans — individuals, businesses and organizations — who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.