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Apple CEO Tim Cook Receives Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award

by Devin Coldewey /
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the 19th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on October 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.NIKON CORPOR / Getty Images

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Apple CEO Tim Cook attended the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner on Saturday, where he received the LGBT advocacy organization's Visibility Award. The award is given to high-profile LGBT individuals whom the group believes make for positive role models.

 Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during the 19th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on October 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. NIKON CORPOR / Getty Images

"Through his example and Apple's commitment to equality, LGBT young people in particular can look to Tim Cook's incredible career and know that there is nothing holding them back," HRC President Chad Griffin said by way of introduction.

“People need to hear that being gay does not give you limitations in life,” Cook told the crowd.

HRC was founded in 1980 (originally as the Human Rights Campaign Fund) to lobby on behalf of the LGBT community and financially support sympathetic political candidates. It continues that work today, on a larger scale — donating millions to LGBT-friendly politicians and causes.

Cook publicly came out as gay it in late 2014, and has repeatedly taken actions inside and outside of Apple to advance the cause of LGBT people worldwide.

"Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me," he wrote at the time. "Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky."

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Related: Apple's Tim Cook: SCOTUS Ruling a 'Victory for Equality'

The dinner was a star-studded affair: Vice President Biden gave the keynote address, and said "there's no longer any questions" that transgendered people should be able to serve in the U.S. military. Biden also rapped Republicans for their positions on LGBT issues.

"The American people are already with you," Biden told the crowd. "There are homophobes left — most of them are running for president, I think."

Biden praised the Human Rights Campaign and other advocates for pushing to end the stigma of supporting LGBT issues — and said their efforts led to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

"You left the Supreme Court absolutely no choice, no choice what so ever," Biden said.

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