Today LGBTQ Victory Institute announced that former Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde and North Carolina state Representative Deb Butler will be co-recipients of the 2019 Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award. Nearly 30,000 people voted for one of the seven nominees to receive the award – and both Congressman de Belaunde and state Rep. Butler received the largest number of votes.
The award is given annually to an up-and-coming LGBTQ elected official whose promising political career will move equality forward for LGBTQ people. This year’s recipients will receive the honor and award at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC on Friday, November 15.
Former Congressman Alberto de Belaunde served in the Peruvian Congress until the president dissolved Parliament in late September. As one of two openly LGBTQ Congressmen in the country, he introduced a marriage equality bill and a bill to allow individuals to change their gender on legal documents. He also worked to overhaul the criminal justice system and legalize medical marijuana. Congressman de Belaunde is a constitutional lawyer, university professor, author and contributor to Correo, and was Secretary of the Congressional Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology.
North Carolina state Representative Deb Butler is the Democratic Whip of the North Carolina House and became one of two openly LGBTQ people in the state legislature when first appointed in 2017. She was elected in 2018. Her primary focus after taking office was to address House Bill 2 (HB2) – a notoriously anti-LGBTQ bill that sparked nationwide condemnation when passed in 2016. In addition to being a warrior for the LGBTQ community, she recently led the condemnation of Republican legislators who overrode the Democratic governor’s veto of the budget using underhanded tactics, while many Democratic lawmakers were at a September 11 commemoration. Her forceful condemnation of the move and her rallying cry, “I Will Not Yield,” earned her national praise and attention. State Rep. Butler also prioritizes issues ranging from fair redistricting to common sense gun reform.
The Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award is named after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin because of her storied career as an openly LGBTQ elected official – first as an out elected official on the Dane County (WI) Board of Supervisors, then as a Wisconsin state Representative, U.S. Representative and now U.S. Senator. Victory Institute works to build a pipeline of LGBTQ leaders who continue to move up the ladder in their public service careers.
Past recipients of the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award include Florida state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith and Virginia Delegate Danica Roem. Nominees for this year’s award – also chosen by Victory Institute supporters – included Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero; Colorado state Representative Leslie Herod; Nebraska state Senator Megan Hunt; Pennsylvania state Representative Malcolm Kenyatta; and Eau Claire (WI) School Board Member Joe Luginbill.
The International LGBTQ Leaders Conference – held in Washington, DC from November 13 – 16 – attracts more than 550 LGBTQ elected and appointed officials, advocates and community members each year. It is the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ elected officials in the world.