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Equality Forum

The global LGBT event returns to Philadelphia for its 22nd anniversary

Equality Forum

The global Equality Forum returns to Philadelphia, featuring four days of panel discussions and special events focused on promoting LGBT equality. Credit: Photo courtesy of the Equality Forum


July 25-28, 2016


The nation’s oldest LGBT civil rights conference, Equality Forum, is back with four days of thoughtful panel discussions and special events taking place during the same time as the Democratic National Convention. It includes special appearances from politicians, activists and even a few celebrities in an attempt to turn a national spotlight on the state and future of the LGBT equality movement.

All events at the Equality Forum are free, except for the ticketed LGBT Champion Award ceremony on July 28.


Four discussion panels – one per day of the forum – are set to take place at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH). The panels kick off at 2:30 p.m. each afternoon.

The National Legal Panel on July 25 gets the conversation started, with a focus on the court’s place in the LGBT movement. In addition to a quartet of legal experts, the opening panel features an appearance by Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized marriage equality in the United States. He’ll stick around afterward to sign copies of his new book, Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality.

Panels on politics, elected officials and the future of the movement finish out the week. Speakers include more than two-dozen LGBT leaders from around the country, like former Obama administration Senior Advisor Mira Patel, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and one-time MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry. For a complete list of panels and discussions, click the button below.

Schedule of panels and discussions

Special Events

Unlike previous years, there are no rollicking party experiences at Equality Forum 2016. You can do your celebrating at two historic marker dedication ceremonies taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m.

The first, on July 26, marks the residence of Philadelphia LGBT civil rights pioneer Barbara Gittings, at South 21st and Locust streets. The dedication features a performance by the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir and remarks from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and Houston’s first openly gay mayor, Annise Parker.

On July 27, a ceremony at 320 Arch Street marks the place where 300 activists met in 1979 to organize the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Out Academy Award-winning filmmaker Dustin Lance Black speaks alongside local leaders.

Equality Forum wraps up with a ceremony on July 28 at NMAJH, where Jim Obergefell will be presented with the LGBT Champions Award, starting at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are required for this event.

More Information

For more information on the Equality Forum and to purchase tickets for the LGBT Champion Award ceremony, click the button below.

More on the 2016 Equality Forum

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