News release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
WASHINGTON, July 30 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds the inclusion of two extraordinary gay and lesbian leaders — the late Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King — in the White House's list of recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award, the nation's highest civilian honor, is bestowed upon individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
"Today's White House announcement of Medal of Freedom awards to the late Harvey Milk and to Billie Jean King honors two openly gay and lesbian people for their outstanding contributions to the nation. We applaud and cheer that Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King's dedication to freedom and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and for women and girls is at last being recognized with our country's highest civilian honor. Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King are trailblazers whose courage, commitment and perseverance have brought our country to a better place. How utterly appropriate that they will receive an award named the 'Medal of Freedom.'
"We also applaud the inclusion of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who has been a longtime advocate and leader in the U.S. Senate on a host of legislative initiatives pertaining to HIV/AIDS and LGBT equality; and of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, two faith leaders who have been outspoken on and supportive of LGBT issues. Each of these recipients has indeed made important contributions toward equality and justice."