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On Saturday, March 29 at 6 p.m., Equality Florida Institute will present the Voice for Equality Award to Constance (Connie) Gilbert, a resident of Key West who has been a steadfast advocate for LGBT equality.  The award will be presented at the Equality Florida Key West Gala at the beautiful Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela Street in Key West.

In a year that has seen many landmark milestones and victories, the Key West gala has garnered unprecedented support by elected officials and community leaders.  This “must attend” event brings together more than 350 of Key West and Monroe County residents, providing the LGBT community and its allies a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the momentum that is building throughout the state and throughout the nation.

“Key West has always provided Equality Florida with enormous support, and Connie’s activism within the community is legendary,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.  “Connie is not only the longest-serving member of the event’s Host Committee, but she has also given tirelessly of her time and of herself as a champion for women’s and LGBT rights.”

A resident of Key West for nearly 20 years, Connie has been an author, an actor, a college teacher, a mom, a journalist, a political public relations consultant and an activist since the early ‘60s, which led her to the movement for GLBT civil rights.  Although she thought she might retire and devote her time to writing when she moved to Key West, her sense of activism led her to found and remain involved with the Key West National Organization for Women, the GLCC, the symphony, the local ACLU and, of course, the Key West Equality Florida Gala.

Guests at the Gala will enjoy a sumptuous buffet and an open bar, and as the community celebrates the milestones already achieved throughout the state, Nadine Smith will present the State-of-the-State address, honoring those who have worked so hard to make these achievements a reality, as well as outlining the work that is yet to be done.

The event will also feature an announcement of the winners of an essay contest held at Key West High School, “What Equality Means to Me.”  Sponsored by Equality Florida, the contest is the brainchild of Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, a recipient of Equality Florida’s 2012 Voice for Equality award, who wanted to help inspire students to think about the concept of equality.  The prizes, provided by members of the Gala Host Committee are a Kindle Fire and $250 for 1st prize, $150 for 2nd prize and $100 for 3rd prize.

Although the event is free of charge, please RSVP by going to www.eqfl.org/keywestgala, or call (813) 870-3735. For information on sponsorship, beginning at $500, call (305) 335-2102.

Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  www.eqfl.org

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