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Family Equality Council kicks off 30th anniversary

Gay parents group raises more than $400,000 at weekend awards dinner
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet

With Modern Family stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet in attendance, the Family Equality Council raised more than $400,000 over the weekend at a gala dinner kicking off the group's 30th anniversary.

Ferguson, an openly gay actor who plays Mitchell on the ABC comedy, performed at the dinner while Stonestreet, who plays Cameron and is straight in real life, presented an award at the event held in the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

'Through Cam and Mitch, Modern Family has shown the world that you don't have to be a man and a woman to give a child a happy and fun life,' Stonestreet said the the star studded crowd which also included Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, director Rob Reiner, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen, among others.

The U.S.-based advocacy organization works to secure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and was founded more than three decades ago by a group of gay dads fighting to protect their parental rights.

The mood at Saturday's dinner was upbeat due to the decision three days earlier by the 9th District Court of Appeals ruling that Proposition 8, a voter-approved ban on gay marriage in California, is unconstitutional.

Among the honorees was Chad Griffin, co-founder and board president of the American Foundation of Equal Rights, the organization which brought forth the lawsuit that resulted in the court ruling.

'Chad is like a son to me,' Reiner said in presenting the award to Griffin. 'I've seen him grow up, I've seen him find his passion.'

Griffin acknowledged that it had been 'a helluva week' with the Prop. 8 decision. He noted that The Family Equality Council had excellent timing as it did a year ago when its dinner came right on the heals of a lower court's decision which had declared California's marriage ban unconstitutional.

'Let's hope next year we're here after a Supreme Court victory,' Griffin said.

Preceding Griffin onto the stage was former U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy who was honored for being the lead sponsor of the bill to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell which barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Murphy, an Iraq War veteran, lost his congressional seat in 2010.

'When people ask, 'Why do you care so much?' I always say I didn't want to be one of those people who got to Washington and only worried about being reelected,' he said. 'You're not judged by how many times you were elected but by what you've done.'

The Council also honored children's book author Todd Parr whose books are for all children but also LGBT inclusive.

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