PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- EqualityMaine has a lot to celebrate, for 3 decades they've been fighting for equal treatment in the workplace and in the legislature for the lesbian, gay and transgender community.Saturday night marked their 30th anniversary celebration.
EqualityMaine President Jane Clayton joked, "our best and brightest volunteers haven't even been on this earth for 30 years," at the banquet.
One of those volunteers is 17-year-old Jessica Abramson.
"I signed up for a shift, canvassing door-to-door and I was extremely nervous," says Abramson. "I was hoping the first few doors that nobody would answer, but by the end I was really enjoying it."
30 years ago, the founders of the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA) organization that would become EqualityMaine, looked over a dramatically different landscape. In 1984, a Bangor man was murdered for being gay.
"After the murder of Charlie Howard, we needed to respond to this senseless act," saidfounding member Barb Wood."We came to together and said we need to change the hearts and mind of the people of Maine."
Over the decades they have fought to end workplace discrimination of gay and lesbian people, to stop legislation that would have banned same sex marriage and, triumphantly, fought to secure marriage equality for all consenting adults in the state of Maine.
"We're happy about that, but we're on to the next," said Wood. "We're actually working [with] youth, elders, transgender, and particularly in the rural areas of Maine."
Members of the founding board of the MLGPA were awardedwith the Pioneers for Equality Award.
Jessican Abramson received the Youth Leadership Award,partly because ofthe documentary she madeto address bullying among LGBT Youth.
"I'm definitely really proud of myself," said Abramson."Particularly because I was so afraid when I started and I've come a really long way in getting over my fears and learning that I can make a difference."