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Congratulations Judith Light and Nathan Schaefer
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/15/12
Last updated on: 10/15/12
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Judith Light accepting her award from Empire State Pride Agenda.

At the Empire State Pride Agenda's Fall Dinner on October 11, 2012, acclaimed actress Judith Light accepted the organization's Douglas W. Jones Award for Activism. On October 15, 2012, Nathan Schaefer assumed leadership of New York state's leading glbtq rights organization.

As Paul Schindler reported on September 15 in Gay City News, the youthful Schaefer comes to the Pride Agenda from his position as director of public policy at Gay Men's Health Crisis. He is also an adjunct lecturer in the School of Social Work at Columbia University.

In a video message released by the Pride Agenda, Schaefer declared that the group's top priority is to pass a transgender civil rights law in New York State.

"We must pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act," he declared. "That's our next victory."

In the video message, Schaefer said he led GMHC's advocacy for the HIV Testing Law signed by then-Governor David Paterson in 2010. The measure ended years of controversy over how to expand testing and make it part of routine health care without curtailing longstanding requirements for informed consent to such a test and for the right of patients to opt-out.

Schaefer also pointed to his advocacy at GMHC for the end of the ban on immigration by those with the HIV virus, which occurred in January 2010, and his work in the ongoing fight to lift the prohibition on gay men donating blood.

His efforts in Washington and at GMHC and his experience in social work, Schaeffer said, "taught me passion and compassion, which stand at the very core of who I am."

Among other key priorities he identified for ESPA are ensuring that schools are "safe, respectful, nurturing zones," that LGBT seniors find opportunities to age "in comfort, security, and dignity," and that shelters for homeless youth, LGBT and otherwise, "are fully funded."

Below is Schaefer's introductory video.

At the Pride Agenda's Fall Dinner, Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actress Judith Light accepted the organization's award for activism.

Light has won acclaim for her performances on Broadway in such plays as WitLombardi, and Other Desert Cities, for which she received a 2012 Tony Award. She is, however, best known for her television work, which includes memorable roles on One Life to Live, Who's the Boss?, Ugly Betty, and Law & Order Special Victims Unit.

For many years, Light has been an outspoken supporter of the glbtq community. She serves on the boards of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Point Foundation. She spoke at the 1993 March on Washington. A library at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center is named after her.

She has also participated in Cyndi Lauper's "Give a Damn" campaign, which encourages straight people to speak for the glbtq community and end discrimination and hatred.

In accepting the award, Light described the glbtq community as her inspiration. She said that she is who she is because of the impact on her of the gay community.

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