Monday, December 22, 2008

A Holiday Message from PFLAG

As 2008 draws to a close, all of us at PFLAG want to express our enormous gratitude for your support, encouragement and hard work to move equality forward. With your steadfast support, we have made real progress in our work to respect, honor and embrace our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family members and loved ones. And even though we fell short this year in our attempts to defeat extreme, anti-gay ballot measures in several states, we are anxious to get to work with the most pro-LGBT administration and Congress in history as we chart the course for our families’ futures. We have important work ahead of us, and together, we have made important strides in 2008.

- PFLAG took on anti-gay lawmakers in the heartland, bringing a message of hope and inspiration to LGBT people in even the most rural, red-state communities in our country. In Oklahoma City, for example, our local chapter stood up to Sally Kern, a state lawmaker who compared gays to terrorists and demeaned our families and friends. In St. Louis, we opposed an honorary doctorate for Phyllis Schlafly, one of the most virulent, anti-gay activists in the country. And we called out Senator John McCain when, on the presidential campaign trail, he insinuated that our families were somehow unacceptable families for children in need of loving homes.

- We launched Cultivating Respect, an important new Safe Schools initiative, to combat anti-LGBT animus in our nation’s schools. By rallying local parents to work with local school administrators, PFLAG is harnessing our nationwide network of allies to improve school climates, educate educators about keeping students safe and empower parents to speak up and make a difference where it matters most: in their own hometowns, where their own children go to school every day.

- The media increasingly looked to PFLAG for insights on the movement for equality. When Senator McCain announced his opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples, the Associated Press turned to us. When California’s Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on marriage equality, USA Today asked PFLAG to weigh in . . . and turned to us again in the days following the passage of Proposition 8. And The Progressive Media Project partnered with PFLAG for widely distributed op-eds on welcoming faith communities, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the urgent need for comprehensive hate crimes legislation.

- President-Elect Obama’s transition team invited PFLAG to have a seat at the table at a recent meeting of LGBT advocacy groups. We were honored to provide our insight about priorities for our community over the next four years, and to bring the parents’ and allies’ voice to a conversation with high-ranking administration officials.

- We called out Love Won Out, the so-called “ex-gay” conference, when it came to Orlando and Anchorage. PFLAG parents greeted young people being forced into this day-long conference, with messages of hope, love and acceptance. Wherever Love Won Out goes, PFLAG will be there to support the children who are subjected to this harmful, anti-gay rhetoric.

- We took on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” with an outstanding rebuke of the law from PFLAG National board member Dan Tepfer in The Dayton Daily News and a week-long blog series featuring service members dismissed under the law, and their parents, talking about the campaign for repeal. And when Congress held its first hearings on the issue since 1993, USA Today turned to PFLAG for an analysis of that historic moment, and our thoughts on how to best move forward as we work to lift the ban.

Even with all that progress, however, much work remains to be done. In the coming months, the new Administration and new Congress will tackle critically important issues of equality. Employment non-discrimination . . . a federal hate crimes law . . . and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are just a few of the historic steps forward that are possible now. But, as we learned in California, Florida, Arizona an Arkansas on election day, it is essential that we have the resources to expand and mobilize our grassroots network of allies in order to change hearts and minds.

This is a pivotal time for our community . . . and a moment to rally our families and allies for our cause. But we cannot do that without you. And so, as you consider your year-end giving, I hope you will make a tax-deductible contribution to PFLAG National. Together, we can continue our important work in 2009 and seize the opportunities ahead of us to realize real change for our LGBT loved ones.

Even in these difficult economic times, PFLAG’s work is monumentally important. Our LGBT friends can still be fired for being gay. Our sons and daughters in the armed forces can still be dismissed because of who they love. And, as we reported in a recent op-ed, hate crimes against our community continue to rise.

Through all of that, PFLAG must still be there. And I hope you will stand with us, too.

I am enormously proud of everything our PFLAG families did to work for equality in 2008, and I am optimistic about the chances for real change in 2009. And with your generous, year-end contribution, we can finally pass pro-LGBT legislation and ensure that every family is respected and protected under the laws of our land.

Thank you for your continued support, and please accept our best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with opportunities. Wherever you are, remember that your actions, both large and small, make a real difference in the fight for full equality.

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