The Equality North Carolina Foundation has announced the award winners for the 2017 Equality Gala: (top left, clockwise) Tranzmission, Mandy Carter, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Rep. Deb Butler, Rep. Cecil Brockman and Rep. Marcia Morey.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Equality North Carolina Foundation has announced the honorees of its 2017 Champions of Equality Awards which will be presented at the Equality Gala on Oct. 21.

Awards are given to honor “exceptional leaders who have made a real impact on the LGBTQ community in North Carolina and beyond. Each award is given to those who have been tirelessly dedicated to securing a lived equality for all North Carolinians,” the foundation said.

Mandy Carter has been named at the Bob Page Equality Champion. Her efforts in advocacy and justice organizing have spanned 50 years. Raised in two orphanages and a foster home, she attributes the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee’s High School Work Camp at 16 years old for her sustained multi-racial and multi-issue organizing. Carter was nominated for the 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 and was one of the five national co-chairs of Obama LGBT Pride, the national LGBTQ infrastructure for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign and win. Last, but not least, she helped co-found two groundbreaking organizations: Southerners On New Ground and the National Black Justice Coalition.

Organization of the Year goes to Asheville, N.C.’s Tranzmission in recognition of groundbreaking work for LGBTQ citizens. Its director and founder, Zeke Christopoulos, began transition in 1998 and started the organization for non-binary and transgender advocacy and educational organization in 2001 in Asheville, N.C. He has worked on policy and education at the national, state and local level and has served on boards, presented content and training for the Presidents Council on the Sexual Health of America, the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, WPATH  and numerous other organizations and conferences. Christopoulos has written and been featured in interviews with a variety of new sources including CNN, CBBC, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post.

Receiving the Jamie Kirk Hahn Ally of the Year Award will be Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman for his pro-equality work. He currently serves as clergy for St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Greensboro, N.C. and is the third vice president of the North Carolina NAACP and president of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Spearman’s involvement in community activism spans more than four and a half decades. As a former campus minister he rallied college students together over a number of just causes; was among the Greensboro Pulpit Forum members who advocated for KMart employees in Greensboro in 1995-1996; marched with Smithfield Workers until they became unionized; been a constant participant with the Historic Thousands on Jones Street Peoples’ Assembly Coalition over the past 10 years; is recognized as a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ and immigrant communities; was one of 25 plaintiffs who fought against the school opportunities program or voucher lawsuit; was one of the first organizational plaintiffs in the voter suppression lawsuit against Gov. Pat McCrory and the State of N.C.; and was one of the first 17 individuals arrested during the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement.

Rep. Marcia Morey, Rep. Cecil Brockman, and Rep. Deb Butler are the recipients of the Legislators of the Year Award.

Morey became the first female investigator for the N.C.A.A. and retired as the chief district court judge in Durham, N.C. to accept an appointment to the House of Representatives to replace Paul Luebke. In 1987, she became an assistant district attorney in Durham and in 1997 Gov. Jim Hunt appointed her to be the executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Juvenile Crime and Justice, then appointed her to the district court bench in 1999. During her tenure on the bench, she was the first judge in North Carolina to grant a same-sex couple the right to a second parent adoption.

Brockman worked previously for some key political campaigns across the state including Elaine Marshall for U.S. Senate, Doug Berger for N.C. Senate and Marcus Brandon for Congress. In 2014, Brockman won election to the North Carolina House of Representatives where he has served the constituency of District 60 for the past two terms.

Butler began practicing law in New York, N.Y. where she traveled all five boroughs and represented a wide array of clients. Returning to N.C. in 1992, and settling in Wilmington, N.C., Butler began her legal career representing clients there. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the board of directors of the New Hanover Commission for Women, The Historic Wilmington Commission, The Cape Fear Green Building Alliance, The Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors and Equality North Carolina. Butler currently serves as the N.C. state representative for House District 18.


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.