- Catering Centerplate NBSE
- Decor, Design Hargrove
- Lighting Atmosphere Lighting
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- Venue Walter E. Washington Convention Center
- Video EMT Productions
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The Human Rights Campaign’s 17th annual national dinner on Saturday night experienced some last-minute program changes when Vice President Joe Biden dropped out as the night’s keynote speaker just two days before the event because of the federal government shutdown. Rather than search for a replacement speaker, organizers reworked the program to compensate for the loss.
“The vice president would have spoken in the first half of the program, so we simply readjusted and shortened that portion of it,” said Mollie Levin, director of events for the nonprofit.
The event still had star wattage: Jennifer Lopez received the Ally for Equality Award for her support of the L.G.B.T. community, and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles performed. Other presentations included a speech from H.R.C. president Chad Griffin and a video about the progress made for equal rights.
The dinner, which sold out three weeks earlier than in past years, drew 3,500 people the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to celebrate the work the nonprofit has done for marriage equality and equal rights for the L.G.B.T. community. With the increased press resulting from the marriage equality campaign that went viral earlier this year on Facebook—supporters used red versions of the organization's logo as profile pictures—the event grew by 400 people this year, prompting organizers to move to a different hall in the convention center. While Hall D is a bit wider than last year’s space, the column-free layout provided more space and unobstructed views of the stage.
Here's a look inside the evening.