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The National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) has announced that activist Jim Obergefell, the namesake of the historic Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case on marriage equality, and Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, are the recipients of this year’s Pinnacle Award at its annual conference this week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Obergefell, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker West Shell in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a member of NAGLREP, became the face of a movement as a lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that would legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. He entered a legal battle with the state of Ohio to be recognized as the surviving spouse of his husband John Arthur whom he married in Maryland in 2013 shortly before his death from ALS. His case eventually made it to the Supreme Court and was combined with other suits to become known as Obergefell v. Hodges, which ultimately asked whether all states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On June 26, 2015, the court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage for the country.

Chris, a 30-year veteran of real estate, has been at the helm of Realogy’s Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate franchise system since its inception in 2007. Her innovative, forward-thinking leadership on next generation consumer trends has made her a recognized expert and regular speaker at international real estate and technology conferences. Under her direction, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has led the industry conversation about Millennial, Asian and Hispanic homeownership and, most recently, LGBT homebuyers and sellers through the first national survey of its kind in partnership with NAGLREP.  She was among the Realogy executives who encouraged NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger to raise an LGBT voice in the real estate industry.

“NAGLREP is proud to honor these thought leaders who, in different ways, have led the conversation in a way that benefits the LGBT community. The era of marriage equality doesn’t automatically mean acceptance of LGBT people in mainstream America. Meaningful actions, national dialogue and leadership must continue in order to effect change,” says Jeff Berger, founder and CEO of NAGLREP.

NAGLREP was created in 2007, but emerged on the national scene last year with the first real estate trade event dedicated to the LGBT market. The timing coincided with a national momentum around LGBT marriage equality and gay rights. Berger believes that a greater climate of acceptance has contributed to the growth of the organization (30 percent annually over the past two years) and willingness for LGBT real estate practitioners to be more visible.  The association created the award to recognize thought leaders such as Obergefell and Chris who have contributed to the climate of acceptance for LGBT people and have consequently enhanced their ability to enjoy the American Dream of homeownership.

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