By Darla Shelden
The highly anticipated Cimarron Alliance LGBT Equality Center was opened last week in Oklahoma City to an enthusiastic crowd of standing room only supporters.
Lines of eager guests extended outside the Center’s entry, while families, politicians, businesspeople, students, clergy and the media attended the event from the metro area and across the state. Randal Marsh and Kathryn Primas were the event co-chairs.
Scott J. Hamilton, Executive Director of Cimarron Alliance said, “What you’re looking at tonight, this space, this is not me, this is not the board of directors of Cimarron Alliance – this is the people who have been working for equality for decades.”
“For us to be here tonight is celebrating not only a remarkable history for our community, but honoring those who have worked so diligently to make change real in Oklahoma.”
Located at 5613 N. May Ave., the Center is in the Bank of America Building at May Avenue and United Founders Blvd. Entrance is on the northwest side.
The Center will allow Cimarron to expand programs and services, and to provide meeting and event space to allied Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups and members.
Special recognition was given to the Diversity Business Association (DBA), which hosted the event.
Oklahoma City realtor, Monty Milburn, DBA co-founder and chair of the DBA program planning committee said, “The Equality Center will provide meeting and marketing space for DBA members and that is crucial to the success of DBA.”
“Some of our members don’t have physical office space because of their types of businesses,” Milton added. “This allows them a place to meet clients in a professional atmosphere.”
Stephen Kovash, DBA member and owner of Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City said, “The Equality Center provides a visible presence for the LGBT community and legitimacy to LGBT folks all over the region, especially the younger people.”
Kovash added. “I am excited that someone might see my gallery on the DBA roster, come in and make a purchase of Oklahoma Art.”
State Senator Al McAffrey, State Rep. Kay Floyd, attorney Richard Ogden, a founder and former Chairperson of Cimarron Alliance and Cimarron board member and attorney Jeff Riles were all acknowledged for their support of the Center.
During the event, Riles presented Hamilton with a Citation of Recognition from the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Kay Floyd said, “You all are doing a terrific job and I know the community appreciates it so much and so do we.”
Hamilton has worked closely on the Center’s development with Toby Jenkins, executive director of OkEq (Oklahomans for Equality), which operates the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa.
“I met Toby three years ago and at that time he said, ‘Oklahoma City must have an equality center,’” Hamilton recalled.
“Two and a half years ago we signed a memorandum between OkEq and Cimarron Alliance saying that we would work together to represent every single gay person in Oklahoma,” said Hamilton. “That accounts for 365,000 Oklahomans that are counting on us.”
On his weekly internet radio program “Oklahoma: Inside Out” Hamilton discussed the Center’s opening with Jeremy Hood, Past Chair of the Cimarron Alliance Board of Directors.
Hood, a Cimarron member since 2008 said, “This really is all about the community. It really is about what Oklahoma City’s LGBT community needs.”
In lieu of the typical red ribbon cutting ceremony, Hamilton invited Hood to cut a lavender ribbon to dedicate the Center.
“As we cut this ribbon we are cutting the bonds of inequality and injustice that for too long have held our community down,” said Hamilton.
“It’s not just about marriage equality, it is non-discrimination against any person for any reason and anyplace in this state,” said Hamilton. “Until that happens, Cimarron Alliance will be here – and we’re counting on you to be here too.”
The Equality Center is open to the public from 12 – 8 p.m., Monday thru Friday.
“This is the center of Oklahoma – we are in the center of Oklahoma City – and it’s my hope that we can become the center your lives,” said Hamilton.
For more information, visit www.cimarronalliance.org or call 405-495-9300. To become a volunteer, visit www.cimarronalliance.org/volunteer.
Metro area Equality Center opens doors to enthusiastic supporters
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