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Edie Windsor, Judy Shepard To Attend LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration Will Also Be Presented With “International Role Model” Awards At Luncheon On July 4, 2015

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - March 16, 2015 - The organizers of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Civil Rights Movement today announced that they will present Edie Windsor, plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court marriage equality decision in 2013, and Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and international activist for LGBT and human rights, with International Role Model Awards at the Independence Visitor Center. Both will be participating in events throughout the celebration, including the 50th Anniversary ceremony at Independence Hall on July 4th, 2015.

“There are very few more deserving recipients we could honor as International Heroes, especially in this 50th anniversary year,” said Malcolm Lazin, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Celebration and longtime activist and LGBT historian. “Edie’s hard-fought victory in Windsor v. U.S. has prompted extraordinary progress in marriage equality and Judy’s work with the Matthew Shepard Foundation has raised awareness across the globe on issues of discrimination and hate,” continued Lazin. “Their courage and commitment to our community is immeasurable, their impact historic, and we are thrilled they will be joining us to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary,” concluded Lazin.

“In the documentary Edie & Thea, A Very Long  Engagement, there is a scene taken 50 years ago of our forerunners 'marching' in Philadelphia, carefully dressed—the men in suits and the women in dresses,” said Edie Windsor. “Last year when the film was showing in Philly at the Gay film festival, I was overjoyed to see and be in the ‘gayborhood’ and interacting with the flourishing LGBT community, so I am really looking forward to being in Philly again this July. And I am thrilled and grateful to be receiving the 'International Hero' award at this upcoming glorious 50th Anniversary,” concluded Windsor.

“I am thrilled to accept this award as part of these 50th anniversary celebrations on behalf of Matt, my husband Dennis, our family and friends, and of course the staff and supporters of the Matthew Shepard Foundation,” said Judy Shepard, President and Cofounder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “We saw in 1998 that Matt’s death was international news and having an impact well beyond the shores of the U.S.,” continued Shepard. "Dennis and I have been honored to take on several State Department missions abroad, from Jamaica and Poland to Mexico and Singapore, to build understanding and support for equality in some very rapidly changing societies. As the world grows ever smaller and more connected, we are honored to be recognized for being a part of helping make the LGBT community better understood and more connected with communities around the world, “ concluded Shepard.

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The organized LGBT civil rights movement was launched when activists from New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia staged demonstrations each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. When 40 activists picketed in front of Independence Hall in 1965, it was the largest demonstration for gay equality in world history with participants from several cities. It became the first sustained effort demanding equality for LGBT people.

Organized by pioneering gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, these “Annual Reminders” laid the groundwork for the Stonewall riot in 1969. After Stonewall, Kameny and Gittings suspended the Annual Reminders and turned their energies to the 1970 march from Greenwich Village to Central Park, marking the first anniversary of Stonewall.

From July 2 to 5, 2015, in Philadelphia, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement will feature panel discussions, a screening of the documentary film “Gay Pioneers” with special guests, fireworks, LGBT history exhibits, parties, concerts, the 50th Anniversary Ceremony and wreath laying at the Gay Pioneers historical marker and a street festival in the “gayborhood.” Most events will take place on or near Independence Mall in Independence National Historical Park.

A four-day celebration of panels, parties and other events culminates with a historic ceremony on July 4th in front of Independence Hall, followed by a street festival and parties in Philadelphia's renowned "Gayborhood" on July 5th.

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