PR Log - May 30, 2012 - DALLAS ─ Equality Texas announced today the three honorees for the first ever Equality Texas Ally Awards that recognizes individuals, businesses, and civic leaders that have advanced equality for all Texans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, during the past year.
Rapper/Singer/Producer Adair Lion and Miss West Texas Kaylee Anne Keith ─ Equality Texas Ally Individuals of the Year. Born and raised in the rough streets of central El Paso, Adair Lion (http://www.adairlion.com) once again proved his own sense of street-toughness by rapping that being "gay is okay" in "BEN," a new music video released in advance of "Michael & Me," Lion's forthcoming album that includes tracks influenced by Lion's idol, Michael Jackson. The new album will be released on the third anniversary of Jackson's death, June 25, 2012.
The original music video version of BEN, which Time Magazine's Tim Morrison said was "an astonishing thing by calling out the hip hop world’s endemic homophobia," was blocked by music content company Universal Music Group (UMG) after just 13 days and 156,000 views on YouTube. Lion subsequently created a second version of the song that does not contain any Micheal Jackson samples and is an entirely original piece that is composed, written, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Lion.
Kaylee Anne Keith, Lion's fiancee, was crowned Miss West Texas in 2011 with the platform "Bullying Awareness and Prevention." Keith, who has spent countless hours raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network as well as other charities, has brought her message of anti-bullying to numerous schools all over the state of Texas and worked together with Equality Texas and other allies to help pass legislation to stop bullying in Texas schools last year. Together, Lion and Keith continue to fight for LGBT rights both in concert halls and classrooms across Texas and around the world.
jcpenney ─ Equality Texas Ally Business of the Year. As a company founded on the Golden Rule, jcpenney (http://www.jcpenney.com) is guided by its core value to treat customers as they would like to be treated: Fair and Square. As part of its transformation efforts to become America’s favorite store, the company hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. The company was threatened by a boycott from the conservative American Family Association, which demanded that the openly gay DeGeneres be fired as jcpenney’s spokesperson.
When questioned about the boycott in an interview with CBS This Morning, jcpenney chief executive officer Ron Johnson stated, "We stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing, because she shares the same values that we do in our company." Ellen DeGeneres also addressed the boycott on her show, explaining "Here are the values I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you'd want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That's what I stand for."
jcpenney has been a corporate leader for equality for many years, promoting a workplace environment free from discrimination.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden ─ Equality Texas Ally Civic Leaders of the Year. Earlier this month President Obama made history when he publicly supported marriage equality for same sex couples (http://www.whitehouse.gov/lgbt). This single action, however, only represents a small portion of the many important accomplishments the President and Vice President have made on behalf of equality for LGBT people, not only in Texas and across the rest of the country but around the globe, such as repealing of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," passing the Hate Crimes Act, and securing LGBT hospital visitation rights. Both the President and Vice President have also recorded videos addressing the issue of bullying, including LGBT youth. (NOTE: The President and Vice President will not be in attendance at the event.) __________________________________________________________________________________
The Ally Awards ceremony takes place on Friday, June 22, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. at the Vendome in Dallas. A truly Texan event where guests will be donning their boots, buckles and 10-gallon hats, the Ally Awards is an evening of unique entertainment, tasty desserts by The Cupcakery and a hosted bar by Tito's Vodka and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, The evening also features prizes including round-trip airfare for two generously donated by Spirit Airlines. Tickets to attend the event are $75-$125 and available for purchase at https://hq-equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35034/p/salsa/event/common/public/index.sjs?event_KEY=1673.
Equality Texas (http://www.equalitytexas.org) envisions a state where all Texans are treated equally, with dignity and respect, and believe equality is a commitment to: