Names in the news: Talking gay rights with the president

When the envelope from the White House arrived, Eddie Gutierrez *03 was surprised to see his name on it. The El Paso, Texas-based public relations professional had been invited to a June 29 gathering with President Barack Obama to discuss gay and lesbian issues with about 150 leaders from around the country.
 
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Eddie Gutierrez *03 (Courtesy Eddie Gutierrez *03)

Gutierrez, a Woodrow Wilson School graduate and former media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), is used to working behind the scenes. “I’m in the business of helping other people get their stories out,” he said. But at the White House, he was part of what he called “a really honest discussion” of policy topics that are important to the LGBT community, including marriage equality. The meeting came just days after New York state legislators approved same-sex marriage, and that news “amplified and energized” the atmosphere at the White House gathering, Gutierrez said.

 
Gutierrez echoed the news summaries of the evening, noting that while Obama acknowledged there would be times when the gay and lesbian community would be frustrated with the pace of progress, he urged those in attendance to judge him on the promises he’s kept. In the big picture, Gutierrez said he believes that gay rights in the United States are “still moving in the right direction.”
 
Below, more alumni in the news this week.

Caltech biochemist Frances Arnold ’79’s innovative work was featured in a recent Los Angeles Times profile. [Los Angeles Times]
 
Carnegie Mellon engineering professor William “Red” Whittaker ’73 and a team of students are vying for the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize, a contest that aims to send privately funded robots to the moon. [Wall Street Journal]
 
Federal judge Denny Chin ’77 explained the reasoning behind his 150-year prison sentence for Bernard Madoff. [New York Times]
 
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader ’55 has taken on a new role as an activist investor, according to recent reports. [Wall Street Journal]
 
Virginia pediatrician Michael Dickens ’68 was selected as the new chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library’s board of trustees. [The News Leader (Staunton, Va.)]