Seelbach gets national award

May 20, 2013

A Cincinnati Council Member will be at the White House Wednesday afternoon to accept an award. 

Chris Seelbach is one of ten people being recognized this year as "Harvey Milk Champions of Change." 

“The award honors elected officials who champion equality and public service,” Seelbach said.  “And so I’m being honored for my attempts to make Cincinnati a place that more people feel welcome and respected.”

President Obama honored the late Harvey Milk in 2009 with America's highest civilian medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the country, and the president said at the time he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation's gay community. 

The Champion of Change honors openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state and local elected and appointed officials.

Seelbach said he was shocked when a staff member notified him about a call from the White House.

“I was just very proud because the work is not always easy and sometimes you get heat for... and that the White House is honoring me for that,” Seelbach said.  “Because 10 years ago, under a very different president, this would have probably gotten the opposite of some kind of honor.”

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Cincinnati submitted Seelbach's name for the honor.

Seelbach will be invited to make remarks during the White House ceremony.

“Each of the ten honorees gets to describe the work that we have done and how we’ve done it and obstacles we’ve faced,” Seelbach said.  “They’re inviting local young people from the area to come and hear how we’ve been able to effect change in whatever region we are from.”

Seelbach is the first openly gay person elected to Cincinnati City Council.