Boston – Last week, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) was named a 2012 Legislator of Distinction by the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association (the Mass LGBTQ Bar). This announcement was officially made on May 4th during the Bar’s 27th Annual Gala Dinner in Boston. Downing was unable to attend last Friday’s event, but received his award on Wednesday in the State House from Mass LGBTQ Bar Association’s Legislative Committee chairwoman Christine Williams.
The Mass LGBTQ Bar chose Downing for this honor in recognition of his work to advance the human and civil rights of all Massachusetts residents, in particular transgender individuals, through his lead sponsorship of An Act Relative to Gender Identity, also known as the Transgender Equal Rights Act, which was signed into law by Governor Patrick on November 23, 2011.
"I am honored to receive this recognition and do so on behalf of all my colleagues who worked to advance this legislation in partnership with countless advocates and citizens across Massachusetts,” said Downing. “Thanks to our collective efforts, 33,000 of our neighbors who didn't have anti-discrimination and civil rights protections before now do. Passage of this Act was a proud moment personally, but it is a moment of accomplishment that is shared by many.”
The Legislator of Distinction Award is presented by the Mass LGBTQ Bar to legislators who have shown tremendous dedication to the advancement of civil rights in the Commonwealth and who have been particularly strong allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.
“We are so proud to honor Senator Downing with this award—he has been unwavering in his commitment to achieve full equality in Massachusetts. His sponsorship of Trans Equal Rights Bill was no exception, and his persistent efforts to rally his Senate colleagues were essential to the success of the bill,” said Mass LGBTQ Bar Association co-chairs Richard Moore and Lisa Wilson.
Founded in 1985, the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association is a voluntary state-wide professional association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer lawyers and allies, providing a visible LGBTQ presence within the Massachusetts legal community.
Downing’s colleague, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D- Boston), was also named a 2012 Legislator of Distinction by the Mass LGBTQ Bar. Chang-Diaz was Downing’s co-lead sponsor of the Act in the Massachusetts Senate and helped ensure its advancement to the Governor’s desk in 2011.
Photo Caption: Senator Ben Downing receives the 2012 Legislator of Distinction Award from Christine Williams, chair of the Mass LGBTQ Association’s Legislative Committee.
Photo Credit: Office of Senator Ben Downing. **An electronic file of this image is available for use and publication. Contact Bethann Steiner in Senator Downing’s office.