Friday, January 16, 2015

MEDIA STATEMENT: The Law Must Protect All Families Equally

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 19, 2015
Liz Owen | lowen@pflag.org | (202) 657-4026  

PFLAG NATIONAL: THE LAW MUST PROTECT ALL FAMILIES EQUALLY
WASHINGTON, DC – PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)—released the following statement following today’s announcement that the Supreme Court would take up four cases regarding same-sex marriage bans:

“PFLAG’s values are America’s values and that means recognizing that all marriages deserve equal respect and recognition no matter where they are celebrated. Since the last time the Supreme Court took up marriage equality, PFLAG has shared family stories in courts across the country, including in the Sixth Circuit, which demonstrate the harm done when marriage is denied, not just to the couples, but also to their families. PFLAGers will continue sharing their stories so that the Supreme Court will realize the law needs to protect all of our families equally.”


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Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and ally organization. Uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, visit pflag.org.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!


So many wonderful things to look back on in 2014...and so many incredible things to look forward to in 2015! 

We are grateful to all of you--our members, supporters, readers-at-large--for supporting the vision of a world of true equality and affirmation for all people, inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression!

Have a safe New Year's Eve as you celebrate (or stay home with friends and loved ones) and we look forward to seeing you in 2015!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Submit your nominees now!

Ever get caught up in the excitement of awards nominations? Wonder who will be recognized as the best performers in their fields each year? Find yourself asking how nominees earn their status? Well, now is your chance to get in on some of the exciting awards action yourself: help us determine this year’s nominees for the 2015 PFLAG National Awards!
You can now submit YOUR nominations for some of PFLAG’s highest honors, which will be presented at the PFLAG National Convention, which will be held in Nashville, TN October 16-18, 2015.
You have the opportunity to make nominations in three categories:
  • The Starr Award: This award is named in honor of Adele Starr, founder and first president of PFLAG National. The Starr Award is intended to recognize an individual within our membership who has made special personal contributions to PFLAG and its mission.
  • The Flag Bearer Award: The PFLAG Flag Bearer Award is given in acknowledgement of the accomplishments of a PFLAG or a non-PFLAG individual/s, businesses, and organizations that have made lasting contributions to the safety and/or equality of our LGBTQ children, family and friends. A recipient of the Flag Bearer Award can be a member of PFLAG but the work the person or persons are doing is being done outside the framework of the PFLAG organization.
  • The Betty Degeneres Advocate Award: This award is named in honor of Betty Degeneres, mother of celebrity Ellen Degeneres, who has used her public stature to educate diverse groups, primarily outside of the PFLAG chapter network, about the critical role of parent, family and ally affirmation of people who are LGBTQ.
Betty DeGeneres accept the first ever  Betty DeGeneres
Advocate Award at the 2011 PFLAG National Convention
“Take a look around your state and think about who would make a great Starr award nominee. You likely have someone in your membership who is always going above and beyond. Or perhaps you know of a non-member or even someone in the news who has been helping with the fight for equality who would be perfect for the Flag Bearer or Betty Degeneres awards,” said Kay Heggestad, co-chair of the PFLAG Board Awards Committee. “Nominate them, now’s the time!”
These awards are a prime opportunity for you to take leadership in ensuring that people who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to PFLAG’s mission and goals are getting the recognition that they deserve. All nominations will be reviewed by a panel of PFLAG member leaders, and final recommendations for awards will be submitted to and approved by the PFLAG Board.
“This is a chance for you to help highlight people who can serve as inspirations to us all who otherwise might not get a platform to talk about their work,” said Bobbie Barry, committee co-chair. “And what better place to spotlight this work than at the PFLAG National Convention!”
Ready to get started with your nominations? All nominations are done online, through the ProposalSpace system. You will need to create a login to submit, but doing so is free.


The nomination period closes at 11:59pm on February 1, 2015. So submit a nominee now! Your nomination may just be the one that creates PFLAG’s next big award winner!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let there be peace and dialogue....


Over the weekend, we at PFLAG National were heartbroken to hear about the tragic deaths of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos in New York City. We condemn this violent act and any violent act in the name of retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We grieve for these officers, their families and those with whom they served as well as for the family of Officer Charles Kondek in Pinellas County, Florida, who also died in the line of duty this weekend.  This has been a divisive time in our country and for just too many families, this season has been about tremendous pain and loss at the time of year heralded for unity, peace and understanding.

Our regard for those who protect us is also why we have long been in open dialogue with the law enforcement community about their need to be educated about how to serve and protect our loved ones. We value this connection.

So while we are heartbroken, we are not disheartened. Today, we are even more committed to building stronger bridges and call on all good people to commit to creating opportunities for peaceful dialogue as a path forward.

We have shared in recent weeks a series of strategies for PFLAGers all over the country to be a bridge of understanding and to do even more to address the issues of distrust and disenfranchisement between marginalized communities and the law enforcement community. We recognized that we need to do more because we have a responsibility to make sure our conversations are not just about the LGBTQ community but all who are marginalized. One of the unique strengths of PFLAG is to listen carefully, respond patiently and never stop learning, and we continue to learn how we should turn our awareness into action.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those missing their loved ones this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Florida AG Asks SCOTUS to Block Marriage Equality

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to prevent same-sex marriages from taking place in that state while state leaders continue fighting the overturning of Florida's ban on same-sex marriage.

Bondi asked for the block on marriages--marriages which could start taking place as early as January 6th when a current stay expires--so that state officials can continue appealing the ruling that overturned Florida's voter-approved ban on the freedom to marry.

If SCOTUS does not act, then the decision upholding overturning the ban, which came from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, would stand, and Florida would become the 36th state where people who are lesbian and gay have the freedom to marry. Meanwhile, some county clerks have stated that they are ready to begin issuing marriage licenses now.

If SCOTUS does act, the marriages would not begin on the 6th, when the current stay ends.

Bondi asked SCOTUS to keep the stay in place until the justices decide which, if any, of the cases they might take up from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently the only federal appeals court that has upheld bans on same-sex marriage.

Justice Clarence Thomas
The 6th Circuit Court  has jurisdiction over Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, and is the first court of the many considering marriage equality cases to uphold the bans. Click here to read detailed information on the Sixth Circuit Court rulings, from our friends at Freedom To Marry.

While SCOTUS' next conference on cases to consider won't be held until January 9th, Bondi's request will go to Justice Clarence Thomas, the justice who oversees the federal courts in Florida...and is also considered to be one of the most conservative voices on the Supreme Court.

Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up to receive email from PFLAG National and stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Open Letter: From Ferguson to True Freedom

Today we are sharing an open letter that our parent organization, PFLAG National, signed on to along with 46 other LGBTQ organizations, in regards to the recent outcry in our country.

PFLAG was formed by a brave mother who stood up and marched, literally, to fight against violence that affected and endangered her own son, and is recognized in communities across the country as being an organization whose members and supporters speak up, take action, and advocate for change.

Nationally and across the country, PFLAG has an open dialogue with the law enforcement community and has leveraged who we are to educate police, prosecutors, judges—all who are involved in keeping our communities safe on a daily basis.

Our conversations with law enforcement started because we recognized that they needed to be educated about how to serve and protect our loved ones. In many places, this dialogue and education has meant positive change, but we need to do more. We need to make sure our conversations are not just about the LGBTQ community but ALL who are marginalized.

It is important that we stand in solidarity, but we also have an opportunity to move into action, and be a catalyst for change in our hometowns.

PFLAGers everywhere have the opportunity to leverage the unique strength of our mission to listen carefully, respond patiently, and never stop learning as we meet people where they are and build bridges. Here are some actions you can take right now as a PFLAG member or supporter:


  • Offer support in social media and in conversations in your community. Be visible in your solidarity. 
  • Leverage your relationships, if you have them, with your local law enforcement community. Offer to be a bridge of understanding about issues of distrust and disenfranchisement because of potential or subconscious bias. 
  • Ask your community partners what you can do. If you do not already have relationships with people who are part of this outcry now is the time to reach out, introduce yourself, and ask what you can do to support them.
  • Send a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local news outlet, sharing why these issues resonate with you. 
PFLAG’s values are America’s values, and that includes standing in solidarity, asking others how we can help, and leveraging our strong, existing relationships to serve the whole of our community for positive change.

PFLAG has always stood for making the future brighter for the next generation, and that must mean for everyone.

The letter, below:



December 9, 2014

An Open Letter: From Ferguson to True Freedom

Words cannot begin to describe the depth of feeling we all share about the unfolding tragedies in Ferguson and New York City. Words cannot relieve the suffering of Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s loved ones nor can words alone salve the pain nor quell the anger of millions. It’s action we need and we need it now.

As LGBTQ national organizations, we proudly stand in solidarity with the civil rights organizations and local activists — including the actions of an amazing, fierce, brilliant cadre of youth leaders, many of whom are queer identified — in demanding fundamental systemic change that tackles the root causes of racial and economic injustices once and for all. From political accountability for the deaths of Michael and Eric to the immediate passage of federal legislation that completely bans racial profiling across this land to ensuring that local police departments are representative and fair arbiters of safety and protection for everyone and who — through their actions — are continually working to earn the trust, confidence and respect of the entire community.

We too must speak louder than words and take more action — to change more hearts and minds and fight even harder for the policies and practices that make statements such as this one obsolete.

We urge you to:
  • Join the March Against Police Violence in Washington, called by the National Action Network, on Saturday December 13th, 10:30am;
  • Organize and participate in peaceful protests in cities across the nation;
  • Attend public meetings in your city or town to show your support or share your experience with elected officials; and
  • Create your own actions for change in person and online — at home, at school, at work, in the corridors of power, and in places of worship.
Everyone, everywhere in our nation can do more to end racism and racial injustice. Everyone, from the Department of Justice that must do more to deliver justice for the Brown and Garner families to the high school principal who could do more to engage and educate students about racism and the need for justice.

Even those of us who have devoted our lives to this cause need to redouble our efforts to reach out to more people — including those people who are on the wrong side of this issue.

If we as a nation are to end racism and racial injustice once and for all, everyone must be part of an ongoing and sustainable process of change — a process that builds on all the progress we’ve made, a process that aims to recruit everyone, and a process with the specific mission of delivering lived equality, justice, and freedom for all.

Signed by:

American Civil Liberties Union

Believe Out Loud

Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT

The BiCast

BiNet USA

Bisexual Organizing Project

Bisexual Leadership Roundtable

Bisexual Resource Center

Campus Pride

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Center For Black Equity

COLAGE

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

The Fellowship Global (Pastor Joseph Tolton)

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (Bishop Yvette Flunder)

Freedom to Marry

Gay Men’s Health Crisis

GLAAD

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

Harvey Milk Foundation

Higher Education T* Circle Advisory Board

Human Rights Campaign

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Lambda Legal

MAP

Marriage Equality USA

More Light Presbyterians

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Minority AIDS Council

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Nehirim

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

PFLAG National

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO

The Pride Network

Reconciling Ministries Network

SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders)

Trans People of Color Coalition

The Trevor Project

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for PFLAG

PFLAG Email
Thank you!Thanksgiving. It always reminds me of coming out.

It was Thanksgiving 1973…in rural Kansas. My brother, whom I seldom saw because he was in the Air Force, was home for the holiday and picked up clues in my excitement about my new friend Sarah. He was curious in a big-brother way. He asked a few questions, and encouraged me to tell Mom and Dad.

I told. They listened politely, asking no questions, saying little, and offering their standard comment: “Oh?”

Then, we drove to Grandpa and Grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner. We ate too much, we watched football, we napped, we drove home.

Nobody told me I was bad. Nobody judged or condemned. Nobody asked questions. Nobody offered support.

For the next 20 years.

Even after I moved to New York In 1986 and started a public relations agency that focused on gay issues.

Still, nothing was said by my family.

In my third decade of being the out, out, OUT professional lesbian daughter, my mother--without explanation--grew bold. She began talking… with family, with neighbors, with my high school classmates, with her minister…and talking with pride about my work and our relationship.

Mom never told me what had changed for her. But I can tell you what changed for me.

Mom’s public affirmation freed me. She also sparked change in my little hometown. Today, a gay couple owns the floral shop, a classmate has boldly acknowledged her gay son, high school reunions are open and welcoming of what few LGBTQ classmates there are. And my hometown welcomes differences of all types...not saying much but also not judging.

We enjoyed a warm and close relationship in her later years. My mom wasn’t a firebrand like PFLAG’s founder Jeanne Manford but, like Jeanne, she knew that she needed to speak up. There was no PFLAG chapter in my hometown but now that I am part of PFLAG, I know without a doubt that she was a PFLAG Mom; in her own way, she quietly took a stand for equality.

So today, as you gather with your families--and I gather with my chosen family of LGBTQ and ally loved ones--I want to thank each of you for taking a stand for equality. Your courage has made the difference for so many people who, like me, needed affirmation to feel whole.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
Stephanie K. Blackwood, Director of DevelopmentPFLAG National
Stephanie Blackwood, PFLAG National