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First GALA Awards bestowed; Congressional hopeful attacks incumbent’s gay rights record

Derrick Wegner, the president of the Monticello High School LGBTS Club and Brandi Moore, who will be president next year, explain the awareness and outreach efforts they are involved in at the high school.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
May 7, 2014

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) of the Catskills handed out their first ever GALA Awards to “local GLBT leaders and allies” on May 3, at the Kraus Recital Hall above the home of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg.

One of the people who addressed the crowd was Democrat Sean Eldridge, who is campaigning to unseat Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in the election this fall. Eldridge, who as running as an openly gay candidate with support from his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, said he grew up in a small town in Ohio, where there was not a single openly gay person.

He said the best way to thank people who had won hard-fought GLTB rights battles in the past is to keep fighting for them. He said, “I think we can’t let up until every person in our country can’t let up until they can marry the person they love anywhere, in all 50 states.”

He added, “I don’t know how many of you know that our current member of congress has a zero percent rating on gay rights, zero percent from HRC (Human Rights Campaign), and it’s consistent.”

One of the GALA award recipients was Jeff Spitz, who won the 2014 Community Leader Award. Spitz was instrumental in establishing the Gays of Sullivan network, www.thegaysofsullivancounty.com. Jim Lomax, president of the board of the Day to be Gay Foundation, which organized the awards, said the website has been important in attracting members of the community to the county.

Spitz, who moved to the area with his husband 13 years ago, told the crowd of about 50 people that he was encouraged to see the growth of the gay community in the area.

The other award winner for the evening was New York Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who has been supportive of GLBT efforts; she was not able to attend the meeting because of a family emergency.