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Set to take place only one month after the Trump-Pence administration’s transgender military ban takes effect, the AMPA National Gala will bring together hundreds of LGBTQ military families for an evening of solidarity and support

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) is thrilled to announce that the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will speak at the 6th Annual AMPA National Gala on Saturday, May 11 in Washington, DC. Mabus served as Secretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2016 — the longest tenure as leader of the Navy and Marine Corps since World War I. AMPA will honor Mabus with the organization’s National Leadership Award for his tremendous advocacy for the LGBTQ military community.

Set to take place only one month after the Trump-Pence administration’s transgender military ban takes effect, the event comes at a challenging moment for the LGBTQ military community. The ban will impact thousands of active duty transgender service members and qualified recruits who want to serve. More than 500 LGBTQ service members, veterans, military spouses and allies will gather at the event in a show of solidarity.

“Throughout his time leading the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Secretary Ray Mabus was a champion of fairness and equality for all who serve — including LGBTQ service members and their families,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Secretary Mabus knows that what matters is a service member’s ability to accomplish the mission, not who they are or where they come from. As a leader with a legacy of positive change in the military, we are honored to welcome Secretary Mabus to the 6th annual AMPA National Gala. As we face a transgender military ban threatening thousands of active duty service members and qualified recruits, the evening will be an important moment of solidarity and mutual support for the LGBTQ military community in the face of unconscionable discrimination.”

“I’m honored to speak to and be recognized by the largest organization representing LGBTQ military spouses and their families, real heroes who sacrifice so much on behalf of our nation,” said Mabus.  “It should be easy to stand up for these patriots when they are willing to risk themselves to protect us.”

As Secretary of the Navy, Mabus set the tone from the top in support of greater diversity throughout the military and building a force that relies on the strength that every service member brings to the fight. He was a leading voice for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which he called “one of the dumbest laws you can possibly have or have had.” He has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, saying, “…it’s not the way to treat patriots, it’s not the way to build a great military force either.” In condemning the trans military ban, Mabus said, “The way I approached it was you set standards, job-specific standards. Once you’ve done that, then gender and race and sexual orientation … doesn’t matter. The only qualification to get a job ought to be the ability to do the job. A more diverse force is a stronger force.”

Ray Mabus has been a Governor, Ambassador and Secretary of the U.S. Navy. As Secretary of the Navy under President Obama, he revolutionized the Navy and Marine Corps, making operations more energy efficient and diversifying their fuel supply, and developed the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Before his appointment by President Obama, Mabus was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994-1996. From 1988 to 1992, Mabus served as Governor of Mississippi, the youngest elected to that office in more than 150 years.

Mabus is CEO of the Mabus Group, a consulting firm focused on helping businesses, governments, and organizations prepare for, recover from, or take advantage of change through resiliency.  Mabus also serves as senior advisor to Google Ventures, is a director of several public companies and is a lecturer at Harvard Law School, executive fellow at Harvard Business School and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is a native of Ackerman, Mississippi, and received a Bachelor’s Degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi, a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a Law Degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. Mabus served in the Navy as an officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

AMPA is an organizational plaintiff, alongside the Human Rights Campaign and Gender Justice League, in a lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN and joined by the State of Washington challenging the constitutionality of the discriminatory transgender military ban. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court denied petitions from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asking that the Court review preliminary federal district court rulings that have kept the Trump administration from implementing its discriminatory ban. However, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court granted the DOJ’s request for a stay on the preliminary rulings, allowing the administration to move forward in implementing its ban. On March 12, the Department of Defense announced the ban will go into effect on April 12, 2019.

The 6th Annual AMPA National Gala is proudly presented by Comcast NBCUniversal and USAA. Additional confirmed sponsors include Airbus, The Palm Center, OutServe-SLDN, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, American Airlines, Wells Fargo Advisors, and Finnegan. The Army and Airforce Exchange Service is a national advertising partner.

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