Filmmaker Lee Daniels And Bryan Cave Attorney William J. Hibsher To Be Honored At 10th Annual Family Equality Council Night At The Pier Event In New York City

NEW YORK, March 30, 2015 — The Family Equality Council is proud to announce that Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated writer-director-producer behind Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire and the executive producer and creator of 2015’s record-breaking new show, Empire, will be honored at the 10th annual Night at the Pier May 11 in New York City.

That evening, the Family Equality Council will welcome Daniels, a gay father of two, along with other LGBTQ parents, allies, and honorees for a night of live performances and appearances by notables in the world of arts, entertainment, politics, and the LGBTQ movement.

Daniels’ films tell stories from unique perspectives and explore deeply human, often troubling emotions. He is perhaps best-known for Precious, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, including nods for Daniels in the categories of Best Director and Best Picture and wins for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (the unforgettable Mo’Nique).

He explored vastly different territory in 2013 when he released the critically acclaimed hit Lee Daniels’ The Butler, an epic true story that followed an African-American butler (Forest Whitaker) who worked at the White House over seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986 – some of the years of greatest political change over the last century.

This January, Daniels’s Empire premiered on Fox, became the network’s highest-rated debut in three years — and continued breaking records from there. It’s the first primetime broadcast series in over two decades to increase its ratings and total viewers every week from the debut through the season finale in March. Daniels wrote and directed the pilot and serves as a producer on the series, a one-hour family drama in which Terrence Howard plays the flawed impresario of a hip-hop empire. Filled with original and contemporary music, the much-talked-about show also features Taraji P. Henson as his eccentric, scene-stealing ex-wife Cookie.

“Lee is a boundary-pushing provocateur in show business but also a gentle, warm presence for his kids,” says Gabriel Blau, executive director of the Family Equality Council. “He strikes an incredible balance.”

The Family Equality Council will also present Bryan Cave Senior Counsel William J. Hibsher with the Hostetter-Habib Family Award that evening. Hibsher has been a leader and legal mentor in the LGBTQ community for over 30 years. The heralded attorney has served on the boards of organizations such as the Hetrick-Martin Institute and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, among many others. A longtime advocate for change, Hibsher won the nation’s first AIDS discrimination case in 1983 and fought in federal court to preserve the right to conduct the annual Gay Pride Parade. Hibsher and his firm have also done pro bono legal work for Lambda Legal, the NYC AIDS Memorial Park, GMHC, Immigration Equality, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and other LGBT organizations. He also serves as vice president of the board of Public Health Solutions, which is dedicated to providing women and children’s care and HIV treatment and prevention, as well as other public health initiatives.

His firm, Bryan Cave, was instrumental in the creation of the Family Equality Council’s 2013 Voices of Children amicus brief, to which Justice Anthony Kennedy referred during oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in 2013 on California’s Proposition 8. Bryan Cave’s attorneys have drafted 17 subsequent Voices of Children amicus briefs submitted in marriage cases all across the country, including the most recent brief submitted to the Supreme Court March 6, in advance of the same-sex marriage arguments to be heard April 28.

Says Hibsher, “My colleagues at Bryan Cave and I feel privileged to do this life-changing, historic marriage equality work with Family Equality Council, and I am personally humbled to receive the Hostetter-Habib Family Award.”

Adds Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy at the Family Equality Council, “Bill’s unending generosity and tireless advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community — and our children — make him a trailblazer. He’s not only been an instrumental force on myriad LGBTQ-related matters in New York and beyond, but he has inspired a new generation of lawyers to seek out and engage in meaningful pro bono work. He has built a legacy at Bryan Cave that will benefit the LGBTQ community for decades to come. It’s time to shine a spotlight on him.”

Presenters, performers and LGBTQ advocates appearing at the Night at the Pier will be announced in the coming weeks.

For tickets, table purchases and additional information about the Night at the Pier, visit


About Family Equality Council®: Family Equality Council® connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren that reaches across this country. For over 30 years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.

Bradley Jacobs
Media Manager
Family Equality Council