GLAAD today announced it will honor global technology leader Google and video-sharing innovator YouTube at the inaugural GLAAD Gala San Francisco: Game Changers on September 13, 2014.
The event will be hosted by ‘Orange is the New Black’ star Taryn Manning and will feature a special performance by ‘Glee’ star Alex Newell.
At the gala, Google and YouTube will receive the inaugural Ric Weiland Award, which honors innovators who advance LGBT equality through tech and new media. The award is named after Ric Weiland, who was a computer software pioneer and philanthropist. Together with his surviving partner Mike Schaefer, he is known for his dedication to LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations.
For years, Google has been one of Silicon Valley's most vocal supporters of LGBT equality. In 2008, Google spoke out against California's Proposition 8, a statewide ban on marriage for same-sex couples, and donated significant contributions to efforts to remove the ban. In 2010, Google announced that it would cover extra health coverage-related costs incurred by gay and lesbian couples unable to legally wed. The following year, Google expanded its employee healthcare coverage to include transition-related care for its transgender employees.
In 2012, the company launched 'Legalize Love,' an international effort to "promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books." That same year, Google unveiled a YouTube video showcasing employees speaking out in support of marriage equality in four battleground states – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.
In 2013, YouTube unveiled its first-ever pride campaign, #ProudToLove, and changed its logo to be pride-themed for the first time in the company's history.
Earlier this year, Google showed its support for LGBT Russians through a rainbow 'Google Doodle,' which debuted just hours before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. And in June, YouTube unveiled its #ProudToPlay campaign – a celebration of LGBT equality in sports. The campaign was featured on the YouTube and Google homepages and marked the second consecutive year that YouTube changed its logo for a pride campaign.
“Few companies have the power to reach billions, and even fewer use that power to help ensure everyone can live the life they love,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Tech innovators like Google are now at the forefront of the global conversation on LGBT equality, ushering in a new era of acceptance and understanding for users across the world. Through groundbreaking campaigns, outspoken support, and a relentless commitment to its LGBT employees, Google has raised the bar on corporate leadership that drives equality forward.”
GLAAD also announced that Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, lead plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the landmark case that struck down California’s Proposition 8, will receive the Presidential Local Hero Award at the event.
“Kris and Sandy's courage and leadership have now touched the lives of countless loving and committed couples across California and beyond its borders, drawing us closer than ever before to full marriage equality in the United States," said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.