SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is accepting an award from the gay rights community for advancing equality during his political career.

Brown tells Equality California supporters that equality for gays and lesbians has improved tremendously in the last 40 years because of the courage of activists, who he says are “the cutting edge.”

During an awards speech Monday night, the Democratic governor said when people live in society’s shadows, “the only way out is courage.”

Equality California says Brown was the first politician in America to appoint a gay judge, in 1979, and cited at least five actions he has taken as governor since 2011 in honoring him with its leadership award.

That includes a bill he signed last year allowing transgender students in public schools to choose which bathrooms to use.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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