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year was a good one for
Toledo--Around 60 supporters listened as Equality Toledo executive director Kim Welter listed the organization’s achievements and honored people who worked for LGBT equality at the group’s annual meeting on March 31.
The meeting began with social time in the University of Toledo’s Libbey Hall. This presented an opportunity for members and supporters to talk to State Sen. Teresa Fedor, Toledo Councilor Joe McNamara, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and gay former Toledo City Council president Louis Escobar.
Guests were welcomed by Carol M. Bresnahan, the university’s vice provost for academic programs and policies.
A short business meeting then followed, with unanimous approval of the 2007-2008 board of directors, which included three new members.
Welter then went on to discuss the advances made by the organization over the past year, including an increased membership, the creation of the Safe Schools Project and various educational events, including Equality Toledo’s presence at the Old West End Festival last summer and a fundraiser at Downtown Latte, featuring singer Anne E. DeChant.
In the space of three months, Equality Toledo, Rainbow Area Youth and the University of Toledo College of Law Legal Clinic raised $20,000 to launch the Safe Schools Project, which has presented three programs at Whitmer High School, as well as Monroe High School and Toledo School for the Arts, reaching out to students, teachers and future educators.
Equality Toledo also hosted, along with the UT law school, two LGBT legal experts who came in to speak: Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force staff attorney Kara Suffredini. Both events were part of fundraisers held by Equality Toledo to benefit the attorneys’ organizations.
After highlighting these and other events and accomplishments, a slate of awards were handed out to groups like Outlaw, UT queer law students; Spectrum and the LGBTA-Q (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, ally, queer and questioning) Resource Center at Bowling Green State University.
Also honored were Melinda and Chris Rakesmith, Gine Mercurio, William Takacs, Sen. Fedor, Lisa Pescara-Kovach, Escobar, Rev. Cheri Holdridge, Brad Faust and Courtney Cahill.
Welter also announced that Equality Toledo has filed for a 501(c)(4) non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service, which will allow the group to do more political activity. While she said that they will probably not be making endorsements, the new tax status would allow them to more strongly lobby for pro-LGBT laws, ordinances and policies.
Welter announced that David Mann, a returning member of the board of directors, had accepted the position of co-president of Equality Toledo, and he would be in charge of the political wing. Mann currently is the executive assistant for Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken.
A couple of days after the annual meeting, Mann said that he thinks the organization has gone a long way to dispel the false impression of Toledo as being intolerant of its LGBT community.
“Equality Toledo has put Toledo on the map,” he said.
“I think we had a very exciting meeting for our second year of existence,” he noted. “Too often our community has been fragmented, and I think Equality Toledo over the last two years has shown that working together, we can make real progress for LGBT citizens.”
He also sang the praises of people in positions of power who have been receptive to Equality Toledo’s efforts.
“Everyone from Teresa Fedor to local principals here in Toledo have been absolutely helpful,” he enthused.