Equality Arizona honors David Mixner
Equality Arizona honored long-time activist David Mixner with its Barry Goldwater Human Rights Award at its annual awards dinner in Scottsdale on Saturday, June 5.
More than 600 people listened to Mixner speak about LGBT history, progress activists have made and ongoing efforts to achieve full equality. And in an interview with EDGE earlier this week, he applauded LGBT Arizonans who continue these efforts in the Grand Canyon State.
"This is a state at times that is very hostile for our community to work in," said Mixner, who attended Arizona State University in the mid-1960s and once advised former President Bill Clinton. "Instead of becoming victims, they have challenged it every step of the way."
As EDGE previously reported, LGBT Arizonans have become an increasingly visible part of the state's politics. Neil Giuliano, former president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, was the mayor of Tempe from 1994 to 2004. Phoenix voters first elected Tom Simplot to the City Council in 2003. And the state Senate could potentially have four openly LGBT members after this year's election.
"That's more than New York and other places," noted Mixner.
Equality Arizona's dinner took place less than two months after Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial law that will allow police to arrest anyone they suspect is an undocumented immigrant and charge them with a crime if they do not carry their documents. The Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, UNID@S and other LGBT organizations endorsed a boycott against Arizona in a joint statement they released on Monday, June 7. And Mixner applauded those at the dinner who spoke out against Senate Bill 1070.
"It's a horrendous law," he said. "I was very proud of the community because they featured it that night. They spoke about it. They really brought it into play at the dinner. If the room was any sense that night, there's overwhelming opposition to it."
Mixner also blasted U.S. Sen. John McCain for his opposition to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The former presidential candidate faces a serious primary challenge from former Congressman and talk-show host J.D. Hayworth, but Mixner concluded McCain is "ending his career as a bitter and hateful man."
"To me, John McCain is almost Shakespearian in his tragedy," he said. "He has surrendered every, every principle, every ethic he has proclaimed to have had for year. He has now become a shell of who he was. It's sad to watch someone sell their soul personal power."
Mixner described Cindy and Meghan McCain as "champions of our community" for their support of marriage for same-sex couples and other gay rights issues. But those who attended the Equality Arizona dinner were quick to describe Mixner in similar terms.
"In our fight, they come and go; David has stayed the course," Annie Groth, co-chair of Equality Arizona, told EDGE. "It's just really remarkable for younger people in the audience to know the path has been paved for the work they're doing today."
Giuliano also reflected upon Mixner's remarks.
"He gave a wonderful and inspiring speech about our movement for full equality and the responsibility we all have to do our part, and be a part of history," he said.