Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year with New Hope

PFLAG wishes you a safe and happy 2009!

In the coming year there is much work to be done, with the new incoming Obama administration and the chance to move equality forward as never before. We hope that you will be with us throughout 2009 - and keep reading The PFLAG National Blog for updates on LGBT news.

Happy New Year!!

Attention Writers: "Step Into My Shoes"

Tonja Bagwell, over at Jafansta.com shared some information with me this week about an LGBT anthology that Jafansta is working on - and they are inviting PFLAGers to share an submit. For those with literary aspirations, here are the details...

Jafansta, Inc., will be publishing an anthology that will feature poetry and other forms of creative expressions from the LGBT population. The purpose of the anthology will be to provide a voice for misunderstood and ostracized populations in society. The voice will be your self-expression about anything you choose to write about. You may express yourself through poetry, prose, essays, narratives, letters, songs, or quotes. Your written word will convey your message to others with hopes that they will better understand your thoughts, feelings, and your life as a member or supporter of the LGBT community.

The anthology will be one in a series of anthologies entitled "Step Into My Shoes." The subtitle for this anthology is not yet finalized. We will not accept derogatory expressions that will degrade or ostracize the featured population in any way. Your expressions can be serious or humorous.

The main purpose is to allow you to express yourself as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person or a friend, family member or supporter, so others will know and understand your plight as a member of the LGBT population. We want to know your feelings and thoughts and your joys and sorrows. Give insight into your life as a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, employee, employer, student, teacher, religious person, political person, and any other role you have that affects your sexual identity. If you are still in the closet, you can express your thoughts and feelings about living as a “straight” person.

Your submissions can be anonymous. If you would like to have credit given to your work, you must submit your name and contact information. Please include the following information with your submission: age; gender; sexual identity, i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender; relationship or marital status; and occupation.

There is no fee to submit work. The publisher has the right to choose which expressions are suitable for publishing. Your work will be copyrighted under Jafansta, Inc., and published with your permission. You will retain all rights to your work. Submissions are accepted from anywhere in the world. You may submit your work via email to poetry@jafansta.com or via regular mail

Jafansta, Inc.
47448 Pontiac Trail, Suite 144
Wixom, Michigan 48393

Please visit www.jafansta.com for more information.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Laugh Out Loud with The Stand-up PFLAG Dad

Live and one night only!

If you're in the D.C. metro region this January, be sure to attend the kick-off event for Metro D.C. PFLAG's twelfth annual Honors Gala dinner (to be held in March of 2009). At The Comedy Spot in Ballston, Virginia you can catch PFLAG dad (and PFLAG National vice-president) Mike Neubecker.

Coming to us all the way from Michigan, Mike Neubecker brings his PFLAG-dad brand of comedy to a special one-night only event on January 11, 2009. If you're interested in attending, tickets are $25 and you can get more information by calling Metro D.C. PFLAG at (202) 638-3852.

Support and Love: Family is Key to Youth Health

This shouldn't sound like rocket science: LGBT youth who are raised in families that support them have less mental health issues than youth whose families do not accept them as they are.

PFLAG parents know this more than any other group. Yet, in the nation at large, many myths persist - such as the fantasy many parents have that they can "change" their children or that it might just be a "phase." But nonacceptance and/or hostility to a LGBT youth by family can have devastating consequences.

Yesterday, in a journal of the Academy of American Pediatrics, the results of a study performed by researchers at San Francisco State University show that "the way in which parents or guardians respond to a youth's sexual orientation profoundly influences the child's mental health as an adult.

"...The study showed that teens who experienced negative feedback were more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide, nearly six times as vulnerable to severe depression and more than three times at risk of drug use.

"More significantly, [researcher Caitlin Ryan] said, ongoing work... suggests that parents who take even baby steps to respond with equanimity instead of rejection can dramatically improve a gay youth's mental health outlook."

This is part of why the hard work PFLAGers do is so critical: by dispelling myths and offering support and education to parents (who often times are confused and have many questions) we all help make the world better for all of the youth of tomorrow!

You can read all about the study's significant findings in an Associated Press article that appeared yesterday. Also be sure to check out San Francisco State's Family Acceptance Project, which headed this study into the importance of family acceptance.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Access Hollywood Features "Prayers for Bobby"

Upcoming Lifetime Television film Prayers for Bobby, based on the true story of a mother who loses her gay son to suicide and later becomes a PFLAG mom, was featured last night on Access Hollywood.

The upcoming film is due out in January (stay tuned for special information from PFLAG about how you can get involved in watching this LGBT-affirming film). It stars Sigourney Weaver as Mary Griffith, whose son, Bobby, committed suicide after facing family rejection due to his sexual orientation. The movie chronicles her internal journey to love and acceptance, and finally becoming a voice for other LGBT people by becoming a PFLAG parent.

Sigourney Weaver is the recipient of PFLAG's first-ever Straight for Equality Entertainment Award at our 2009 Straight for Equality Awards Gala coming to Times Square, New York City this February, 5, 2009. Read more about out special gala event here.

And be sure to check out Access Hollywood's sneak-peek at Prayers for Bobby!

Monday, December 22, 2008

CA Attorney General to Court: Overturn Prop 8

The California attorney general recently changed his position on the state's new same-sex marriage ban and is now urging the state Supreme Court, which is hearing lawsuits brought forth against the ban, to void Proposition 8. The story appears today via The Associated Press.

Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a legal brief saying the measure that amended the California Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman is itself unconstitutional because it deprives a minority group of a fundamental right. Earlier, Brown had said he would defend the ballot measure against legal challenges from gay marriage supporters.

But Brown said he reached a different conclusion "upon further reflection and a deeper probing into all the aspects of our Constitution.

"It became evident that the Article 1 provision guaranteeing basic liberty, which includes the right to marry, took precedence over the initiative," he said in an interview Friday night. "Based on my duty to defend the law and the entire Constitution, I concluded the court should protect the right to marry even in the face of the 52 percent vote."

This is major step in the right direction of hopefully restoring marriage equality to the Golden State. Brown's point is clear: even the tyranny of a majority vote (albeit by a slim margin) can not undo the rights of any minority to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lisa Miller Talks About Marriage, The Bible and Newsweek

Newsweek reporter Lisa Miller (pictured), who caused a firestorm of controversy with her recent look at the religious case for marriage equality, recently sat down with National Public Radio to discuss her article, and her belief that, in fact, faith demands that every family be treated equally.

Miller debated the topic with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on NPR's Talk of the Nation. To listen in, click here . . . and leave your thoughts about the debate here on the PFLAG blog.

Does Rick Warren "Celebrate" So-Called Conversion Therapy?

The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan reports this morning that, according to at least one of his readers, Rev. Rick Warren (who was selected by President-Elect Obama to deliver the inaugural invocation on January 20th) may not just be on the frontlines of the movement to block marriage equality . . . but may also be a proponent of so-called "ex-gay therapy."


"Most people probably don’t know this, but Warren’s Saddleback Church has a Friday night program called Celebrate Recovery. On the whole the program is modeled after the twelve steps, albeit with an evangelical supplement to it. There are subgroups in the program that cater to men with 'addictions' to pornography, recovery alcoholics, and women with codependency issues. There is also a group for those who struggle with 'same sex attraction,' the discourse of which is directly borrowed from the ex-gay movement. I know this, of course, because I was involved with the group in Spring of 2007."

"I spent the majority of my Fridays as a young, 23 year old gay man sitting in a room with a group of men whose self loathing and struggle was overwhelming," the person tells Sullivan. "These were largely married men, men with children, some of them former ministers, whose entire lives became consumed with undertaking the impossible act of modifying, or at least seeking to neuter, their own sexual orientation."

So-called "therapies," of course, have not only been discredited by reputable medical organizations, but they have also proven to be harmful. In 1990, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated that scientific evidence does not show that conversion therapy works and that it can do more harm than good. These so-called “ex-gay ministries,” such as “Love Won Out,” use out-moded medical theories and radical religious beliefs to justify trying to alter gay and lesbian people's natural sexual orientation. (See PFLAG's response to the "ex-gay" movement in this video from a recent conference in Orlando, Florida.)

Rev. Warren needs to clarify if he endorses such harmful practices . . . if he sees sexual orientation as a "curable" trait . . . and if he disagrees with President-Elect Obama's belief that there should be no place for these insidious practices in true communities of faith.

There should be no room at the inaugural pulpit for a pastor who would put young people's well-being at risk. There is nothing to "celebrate" about endangering the lives of those we love.

A Good Step Forward in Phoenix

Yesterday, the Phoenix, Arizona City Council approved a resolution to create a domestic partnership, reports OnTop Magazine.

The purpose of the registry is to allow gay couples the right to hospital visitation and visitation in other health care facilities. Last month during the elections, Arizona unfortunately joined Florida in passing a state constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. This new measure will allow gay residents of Phoenix at least the basic human right of hospital visitation of loved ones in care.

Steve Ralls, our director of communications, told OnTop, “It is possible that domestic partnerships, civil unions and other recognition can be used to educate voters about the rights and benefits that have been stripped away from so many people because of those amendments."

Openly gay Phoenix Councilman, Tom Simplot, added, “It boils down to a basic human right, and as we enter this holiday season, the issue is even more pronounced... If you are sick or injured and lying in a hospital bed, you should have the right to have your significant other at your bedside.”

Read the full story here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Letter to President-Elect Obama


Earlier today, PFLAG National President John R. Cepek, Vice President Rabbi David Horowitz, and executive director Jody Huckaby sent the following letter to President-Elect Obama regarding his selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the January 20 inaugural in Washington, D.C.

Dear President-Elect Obama:

As people of faith, and as friends and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender loved ones, we are disheartened and discouraged by your selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inaugural ceremonies on January 20 in Washington. This historic moment in our nation’s history, and for our nation’s families, deserves the blessing of inclusive faith leaders who believe in, and practice, the universal call to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Simply put, there are many welcoming, affirming people of faith who would set a proper tone for this momentous event in our nation’s history, and Americans who cherish our national ideal of “liberty and justice for all” would have benefitted from a wiser choice for this honor than Rev. Warren.

As a proponent for rolling back rights for our families in California, Rev. Warren has sent an unmistakable signal that he believes some Americans are more worthy of civil liberties and legal protections than others. And as an outspoken critic of full marriage equality, Rev. Warren stands on the wrong side of history and, even more importantly, the wrong side of family values. Outdated prejudice, and antiquated philosophies, are out of step with the change in tone we, and our loved ones, want to believe in.

All of us at Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have been inspired and empowered by your eloquent reminder that LGBT people are part of the fabric of our nation and that, as you so powerfully pointed out in 2004, “we have gay friends in the red states, too.” Rev. Warren, however, has not been a friend to our families, and his selection for this prestigious role in your inaugural ceremony is unwarranted and unfortunate.

Now, more than ever, our families need an ally in Washington who will stand up for us all. Unfortunately, Rev. Warren has stood against equality for all. We know our country, and our families, can do better.

Sincerely,

John R. Cepek
PFLAG National President

Rabbi David Horowitz
PFLAG National Vice-President

Jody M. Huckaby
Executive Director

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcoming An Education Secretary Who Champions Safe Schools

In Gus Van Sant's film Milk, Sean Penn, portraying the slain San Francisco Supervisor, asks a young Cleve Jones (played by Emile Hirsch in the film) what it was like being a young, gay man attending high school in red state Arizona.

"Did the jocks beat you up?"

"I faked a lung condition to get out of gym class," Jones responds.

It is an answer that countless gay movie goers could no doubt empathize with. In America - in both the red states and the blue - the school experience can be one fraught with anxiety, danger and fear for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. LGBT students tell researchers they hear "faggot" almost every day . . . that they are threatened, harassed and intimidated . . . and that it is virtually impossible to learn in a classroom where you are forced to choose between learning math or avoiding a bully.

For young gay people, classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and locker rooms become dark corridors and alleys where an attacker is always waiting just around the corner.

That very danger, and the consequences of not taking concrete action to protect LGBT students, came to a head when, last year, an Oxnard, California student was gunned down in a classroom by a classmate who believed he was gay. The case of Lawrence King, a young, gender non-conforming boy who dared to express himself as he saw fit, blew the cover off the fa├žade that America's schools are safe havens where parents can assume their LGBT children will be properly cared for, and learn. The King case ignited a firestorm of controversy, placing the issue of school safety in the headlines, and prompting a still on-going case of finger pointing and blame.

Unfortunately, it did little to rally parents, school administrators or activists to actually come together and agree on a plan.

That, however, may be about to change, courtesy of committed parents . . . and one very promising political appointee who may be about to give them a place at the table.

New Recommendations for Preventing Teen Suicide

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has just published a study entitled Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. The study carefully details the compounding reasons why lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth have higher rates of suicide and attempted suicide. And while the information is critically important, the conclusions are ones PFLAGers know very well. Indeed, they can be summed up in three words --support, education and advocacy – the PFLAG mission.

The study explores the role the internet, social environments, family connectedness - and other risk factors, including HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, depression, and homelessness - have on LGBT youth.

And most importantly, the study contains detailed recommendations of how to reduce the risks for LGBT youth.

PFLAG and our chapters are mentioned a number of times in the study as the antidote. The support we provide in our chapters; the advocacy we do in coalitions on suicide prevention (making sure that the message is reflective of our community and LGBT youth in particular); and the education we do in schools to make sure there is strong policy, good resources and programs that make LGBT students visible and safe in their schools were all cited as recommendations for suicide prevention.

Take a look at the study and remember that the work all of you at PFLAG do really does protect our childrens’ future.

- Suzanne Greenfield

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coming Together in Utah

This weekend past, more than 100 people converged on the Tower Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss the future of LGBT equality in the Beehive State.

The rainbow patchwork of various groups from across the state was described in The Salt Lake Tribune today: "The forum was a rare opportunity for virtually every gay rights group, from Equality Utah and the Log Cabin Republicans to the Queer People of Color Network, to collaborate and solicit new ideas. The top priority: Equality Utah's Common Ground initiative, a collection of six bills aimed at the 2009 legislative session that would enhance legal protections offered to LGBT Utahns."

"Rep. Christine Johnson, [who I had the pleasure of meeting at a fundraiser here in Washington, last year] an openly gay Democrat from Salt Lake City, called it inspiring to see 'this many people … who actually give a damn.' And she hopes the momentum translates into action at the upcoming Legislature... 'If you are intimidated to come up to the hill, if you think it's a big deal to talk to a legislator, it's really not.'"

Read more about the LGBT town hall gathering here, and click here to see the various PFLAG chapters that offer support, education and advocacy in Utah.

Obama Chooses LGBT Ally for Education Secretary

From Rod 2.0 . . .

The Barack Obama transition team will nominate Arne Duncan (pictured), the Chicago public schools chief, as his choice as Secretary of Education. Duncan has run the country's third-largest school district since 2001, pushing to boost teacher quality, improve struggling schools, and, has been an outspoken advocate against handgun violence.

Duncan is also considered a strong ally of the gay and lesbian community. The CPS executive backed a recent proposalfor a high school planned as a haven for LGBT and bullied youth. Mayor Richard M. Daley and some gay advocates are not supporting the proposal and the plans are now considered DOA.

Not all educators in Chicago are pleased with the appointment. Some teachers have criticized Duncan's strong advocacy for charter schools and so-called "contract" schools which tens of thousands of Chicago students now attend.

What are your thoughts on President-Elect Obama's choice of Duncan as our next Secretary of Education? Leave your thoughts here in the comments section, or over at Rod 2.0. And to read more about PFLAG's insights on the proposed Chicago LGBT school, click here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcoming Rabbi Horowitz

Wendy Horowitz dropped a giant, neon, blazing hint when she told her parents she was joining the gay and lesbian organization at Ohio State.

Her father, retired Temple Israel Rabbi David Horowitz, thought it was great she was supporting her gay friends.

When his daughter eventually was blunter about her sexual orientation, Horowitz and his wife, Toby, were stunned. They cried and begged her to get counseling.

''I may need that,'' Wendy told them, ''but not because I'm gay.''


That was over a decade ago, in 1990. Flash forward to 2008 when, last month, Rabbi David Horowitz became our Vice President of PFLAG National. In that time Rabbi Horowitz has dedicated himself to support, education and advocacy for the LGBT community. And you can read about it in The Akron Beacon Journal's feature this from this weekend.

We wish to extend a warm welcome to Rabbi Horowitz to his new position and for helping us move equality forward!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All I Want for the Holidays

This is a guest post from author, musician and entrepreneur Jonathan Bannon Maher, whose parents are members of their local PFLAG chapter.

When trade smiths, farmers, teachers and clergy sailed west on boats from Europe with their families in the early 1600s, they sought to leave behind oppression in favor of opportunity and freedom. A century and a half later this vision was recorded in a document, The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, perhaps best epitomized by the idea captured in the phrase "all men are created equal". Though imperfectly gender specific, it was the first time in the history of humanity that had ever been declared by a governing body. On November 4th of this year, we saw our founders' vision affirmed in the first election of an African American to the highest office of the land, but on the same day, that founding vision fell short in the passage of a law in California to prohibit marriage between loving consenting adults of the same sex.

I am gay, but at 27, marriage is not necessarily the first thing on my mind as I write this. Here is what is on my mind: discriminating between heterosexuals and homosexuals in the law–be it in opportunities for marriage, military service, or through the intentional omission of protections in employment, housing and education–creates a stigma that carries over to the workplace and our public schools, sometimes with devastating consequences.

On February 13th of this year, a 15 year old in Ventura County California, Lawrence King, was shot twice in the head as he sat in his middle school classroom. He was killed by a 14 year old male classmate. According to students in a Newsweek article, he had recently asked that same male classmate to be his valentine.

This is a problem that affects everyone: when a significant percent of the population faces artificial hurdles in achieving their full potential to contribute to society, it works to hold this country back at a time when it faces increasing global competition and challenges to its leadership status.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Baby Steps - And Big Questions - For General Colin Powell


It could have been a political earthquake that, in the end, was more of a subtle shift on the ground.

Yesterday afternoon, CNN's Situation Room began promoting an interview with General Colin Powell that promised the "strongest statement yet" from the retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the federal law that prohibits lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from serving openly in our armed forces. And while that may have technically been true, it was hardly the ringing endorsement for repeal that Powell's colleague, General John Shalikashvili, offered up more than two years ago in The New York Times.

"We definitely should reevaluate [the law]," Powell told Fareed Zakaria. "It's been 15 years since we put in 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' which was a policy that became a law. I didn't want it to become a law but it became a law. Congress felt that strongly about it. But it's been 15 years and attitudes have changed and so I think it is time for the Congress, since it is their law, to have a full review of it, and I'm quite sure that's what President-elect Obama will want to do."

The step forward for Powell came down to one word: "should."

In other interviews prior to Thursday's sit-down with Zakaria, the General, who is widely regarded as the magic bullet that could considerably speed up repeal efforts on Capitol Hill, went with a different analysis of Congress' role: "could."

New Jersey's Governor: It's Time For Marriage Equality

On Wednesday New Jersey's Civil Union Review Commission released a report that New Jersey's civil unions are not fully equal to marriage, and urged the state to grant full marriage equality to all of its citizens.

And today, New Jersey's governor Jon Corzine is urging the state's legislature to "seriously review" the report and establish marriage equality "sooner than later."

Gov. Corzine went on to add, "...civil unions may have widened that gap and fostered inequity by creating a separate class of relationships... it's clear that this issue of civil rights must be addressed sooner rather than later."

While it remains unclear if the legislature will take up the issue, Corzine has vowed to sign marriage equality into law once it reaches his desk.

Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) said the report "should spark a renewed sense of purpose and urgency to overcoming one of society's last remaining barriers to full equality for all residents. As I have said many times before, same-sex marriage in New Jersey is only a matter of 'when,' not 'if.'"

And when marriage equality comes to the Garden State, we will break the news here on the PFLAG Blog so keep checking back for updates on marriage equality in every state.

No Insignificant Sacrifice

Like most Americans, I am continually amazed at the extraordinary sacrifices our men and women in uniform make in order to serve our country. Extended tours of duty . . . the frontlines of combat . . . the often grueling hours without enough pay. "Inspiring" seems like an insigificant measure of the commitment our troops in the armed forces constantly show.

Perhaps their greatest sacrifice, however, is their time spent away from family. And during the holidays, that can be an especially difficult separation . . . especially for lesbian and gay service members with a partner, spouse, loved one or child back home.

Of all its heinous consequences, the most personal side-effect of the unnecessary and un-American law we call "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may just be the separation it imposes on couples.

I cannot imagine spend the holidays without saying "I love you" to the most important person in my life. But under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," that's exactly the reality some service members face.

"Servicemembers say that they have to take the most extraordinary precautions for the most ordinary activities," reporter Jennifer Vanasco writes at 365Gay.com. "They need to watch everything they say, using gender neutral pronouns or making up a significant other of the opposite gender. They need to hide who sent them care packages, who sent them a letter, who they write to themselves."

"If they’re deployed in a foreign country, their partners need to limit calls to the shared phone, lest others on the base (who usually answer that phone) begin to suspect something is up."

Consider, for example, the story of Lee Quillian and Jen Kopfstein:

Quillian tells Vanasco that, during one holiday when she was deployed onboard a ship in the Middle East, "All the other sailors were going to a special room to film video messages to their sweethearts," but Qullian could not. Because her sweetheart was Jen, another woman.

And "Elizabeth," another service member who spoke with Vanasco, says that, "“Even while I’m here stateside at lunch, people are talking about what presents they’re going to buy their wife or girlfriend – I’m part of the group but I can’t be part of the discussion."

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" also means "Don't Love." And that's an unacceptable commandment at any time of the year . . . but especially during the holidays.

“The holidays bring up memories, expectations,” Trey Malicoat, a therapist who has worked with servicemembers, told 365Gay.

“There are more parties, more activities, there’s a financial drain. For gay soldiers, there’s the added burden of not being able to talk about home, about where he or she would like to be, about the person who has the most significance in his or her life.”

That's not an insignificant sacrifice at all.

To read Vanasco's full report, click here. And to learn more about dismantling "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit this website for information and resources, too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Landmark Report Finds Inequality Inherent in Two Separate Institutions

After eighteen public meetings, 26 hours of oral testimony and hundreds of pages of written submission from more than 150 witnesses, the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission issued its final report entitled, The Legal, Medical, Economic and Social Consequences of New Jersey’s Civil Union Act. In the report, the Commission recommends that the Legislature change state law "to allow same-sex couples to marry" and to do so "expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey." This historic report and its recommendations were endorsed by a 13 to 0 vote of the Commissioners, with no abstentions.

The Commission is an independent body composed of 13 members created two years ago to evaluate the impact of the civil union law, which was meant to provide rights and responsibilities of marriage under another name. Its purpose is to (a) evaluate how effective the civil union law has been in providing equality to same-sex couples, particularly in comparison to marriage equality, and (b) make recommendations to the Governor and the State Legislature, if the Commission deems necessary, on what legislation they should enact to guarantee full equality to same-sex couples in New Jersey. The 13 members of the Commission include not only LGBT leaders, but also a right-to-life Republican along with two clergy and six government officials representing an Administration that had opposed marriage equality in the courts.

Governor Jon Corzine agreed that the State’s civil union law “hasn’t done enough to narrow the gap,” and believes marriage should be extended to same-sex couples “sooner rather than later.” He encouraged the State Legislature to “seriously review” the Commission’s report since it found “that civil unions may have widened the gap and fostered inequity by creating a separate class of relationships.” Corzine went on to say, “while the administration is focused squarely on the economic crisis for the foreseeable future, it’s clear that this issue of civil rights must be addressed sooner rather than later.”

Groups like Garden State Equality are rallying supporters tonight to gather in Collingswood, NJ to express support of the Commission’s recommendations to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. Meanwhile other groups like the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage’s continue to request that legislators amend the state’s constitution by defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you live in or around the Collingswood area, please consider attending tonight’s rally to visibly express your support for marriage equality. If you cannot attend, please contact your state legislator and encourage them to adopt the Commission’s recommendations expeditiously.

Faith, Family & The Debate Over a Cover Story

Just ten years ago, Lisa Miller's story would have been virtually unthinkable. Today, it's standing out at news stands, in both small towns and large, all across America.

The Newsweek reporter, who has caused a firestorm of controversy (and an apoplectic response from right wing activists) with a cover story for the magazine's December 15 issue, started with a simple theory that expanded into a sudden national debate: Maybe, just maybe, those who use religion as their weapon against marriage equality are, in fact, misusing faith to distort religious teachings about family.

What she found, combining rigorous research with common-sense thinking about true family values, is that, indeed, religion doesn't present the most compelling case against marriage for lesbian and gay couples. It presents the most compelling case in favor of it.

"As a civil institution, marriage offers practical benefits to both partners: contractual rights having to do with taxes; insurance; the care and custody of children; visitation rights; and inheritance. As a religious institution, marriage offers something else: a commitment of both partners before God to love, honor and cherish each other—in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer—in accordance with God's will," Miller writes in The Religious Case for Gay Marriage. "In a religious marriage, two people promise to take care of each other, profoundly, the way they believe God cares for them. Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should."

Miller argues that the concept of family trumps condemnation of same-sex relationships by leaps and bounds in the Bible. Scripture, she found, is adament in its belief of the sanctity of families . . . but makes no reference to a strict interpretation of family, or offers any rebuke of marriage between two loving people who might just be of the same gender.

"The biblical Jesus was—in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise—emphatically unmarried," Miller writes. "He preached a radical kind of family, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties. Leave your families and follow me, Jesus says in the gospels. There will be no marriage in heaven, he says in Matthew. Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce (leaving a loophole in some cases for the husbands of unfaithful women)."

"Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition," she concludes.

The Newsweek story also notes that there may, in fact, be a bit of a same-sex love story among the pages of the Bible.

"Gay men like to point to the story of passionate King David and his friend Jonathan, with whom he was 'one spirit' and whom he 'loved as he loved himself,'" they note. "Conservatives say this is a story about a platonic friendship, but it is also a story about two men who stand up for each other in turbulent times, through violent war and the disapproval of a powerful parent. David rends his clothes at Jonathan's death and, in grieving, writes a song:"

I grieve for you,
Jonathan my brother;
You were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
More wonderful than that of women.


That passion, Miller seems to say, could be grounds for "family," too.

As Jody Huckaby, PFLAG's executive director, noted in a letter to Newsweek on Monday, "Lisa Miller’s superb analysis of the arguments surrounding scripture and same-sex marriage points to an unmistakable, common-sense conclusion: Marriage – both gay and straight – is about a fundamental respect for families, and families are rightfully both revered and respected by every religious doctrine."

"That core truth," Huckaby said, "combined with an unfailing belief that we are called upon to 'love thy neighbor as thyself,' provides ample evidence that those who use religion to push anti-gay agendas are misleading their flocks and misinterpreting their texts. Fortunately, many members of the clergy courageously stand up for every family, including those with two loving, lesbian or gay partners. And every day, PFLAG also hears from more and more straight allies who are anxious to be part of the struggle for equality . . . more and more parents who are rejecting faith-based misconceptions and embracing their children . . . and more and more married men and women who want to see the same rights, protections and dignity extended to their lesbian and gay neighbors. Their work, and the evolving school of theological thought about marriage, family and fairness, should help us all find faith that love, and not rejection, will soon rule the day, both in the voting booth and the pulpit, too."

Indeed, Miller's expertly crafted treatise on marriage, family and bigotry is a powerful reminder of the original core tenents of faith. It is those original tenents, Miller points out, that have been forgotten in favor of more controversial - and marketable - anti-gay rhetoric.

What do you think? Read Miller's full article here . . . leave your thoughts in the comments section below . . . and weigh in with Newsweek, by sending your own letter-to-the-editor to letters@newsweek.com. If your letter is published, let us know, and we'll link to it from the PFLAG blog, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cultivating Respect: One School, and One Parent, at a Time


PFLAG National and many of our local chapters have had a long and distinguished history in offering schools resources and program to address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.

I started as a volunteer in the Metro DC Chapter of PFLAG and borrowing heavily on the work of the Boston Chapter and others I created a safe schools program that included 2 days of teacher training for the District of Columbia Public Schools, books in every high school in the city and a support group under the auspices of the school counselor that addressed the particular needs of LGBT students in specific schools.

Learning how to engage principals, teachers, counselors, and the school board has always been a challenge . . . but we knew PFLAG could meet that challenge. By understanding both the needs and the role of the person we were addressing, we made sure that our resources and ideas were getting a fair and thoughtful assessment. And that is the goal of the new Cultivating Respect training program, unveiled this morning, that we would like to offer to all of our PFLAG chapters.

The strength of the program is that it is grounded in the role that we as PFLAG play in our own communities. As active and involved individuals in our schools and communities we have an opportunity to engage school personnel on issues ranging from policy to programs providing resources that are specific to a community or useful in any school.

Cultivating Respect is a full day workshop that will prepare the participants to engage directly with their school.

The training consists of:

- Learning to tell our story in an effective and appropriate way depending on the audience.

- Using statistics and current events to build a stronger case.

- Skill building on language, policy and problem solving in a school environment.

- Understanding the different access points in a school that you can leverage.

- Training on 3 specific programs that can implement in their school community.

PFLAG chapters that are interested in hosting training must:

- Secure a location for the training.

- Register a minimum of 15 people to attend the training.

- Provide a lunch for those attending the training (they can charge participants to cover this cost).

Once a chapter has committed to host a training:

- Participants will receive a pre work packet with relevant state and local information as well as materials about what students are facing in school.

- At the end of the one-day training they will receive a binder with all the training materials, modules detailing how to implement the programs that were presented, and a copy of the new safe schools booklet.

- After the training, participants will be added to a PFLAG Google list serve that will be used to update information, brainstorm ideas, problem solve and build resources among the participants.

In conjunction with the Cultivating Respect training, we have also released a new safe schools booklet, The Top 10 Ways to Make Schools Safer – For All Students. This booklet will inform teachers, administrators, staff and concerned community partners on how to effectively make school s safer by stopping inappropriate behavior, adopting policy that can be used to educate and create safer environments, and provide resources and materials that build positive and respectful communities. The booklet is designed as a how too for a school just beginning this work as well as schools who have started the process but would like to further their goals. With the booklet we have produced a new sticker and poster for teachers to place in a public space.

Although we will only be able to provide a limited number of trainings this year, I would love to hear from your chapter if you are interested in hosting.

Remember, PFLAG is support, education and advocacy . . . and what better place to do that work than in the schools in your community?

Please contact me at sgreenfield@pflag.org or call me at (202) 467-8180, ext. 219, if you want to discuss hosting a training.

- Suzanne Greenfield

Monday, December 8, 2008

History in the Heartland

On Tuesday morning, beginning at 10am CT, PFLAGers can watch history unfold - live - as the Iowa Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that could bring marriage equality to the heartland. Six Iowa couples are asking the court to recognize their relationships by affirming the right of lesbian and gay couples to marry.

"The case, Varnum v. Brien, could make Iowa the first state in the Midwest to legalize gay marriage," University of Iowa law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig told USA Today.

"This is the heartland of America — a place where family values are revered," says Onwuachi-Willig, who signed a court brief supporting gay-marriage rights. "It would be an incredibly strong signal for the Iowa Supreme Court to find that same-sex marriages are legal."

The lawsuit includes David Twombley and Larry Hoch, pictured, who are a couple from Urbandale, Iowa, who say they would like to marry after nearly eight years together, the paper reports.

PFLAGers are invited to watch the hearings live, beginning at 10am local time tomorrow, by visiting the Iowa Supreme Court website, or the Des Moines Register online. Both sites will broadcast the hearing as it happens.

And PFLAG supporters in Iowa are invited to several events hosted by One Iowa, the Iowa LGBT statewide group. One Iowa will be hosting Tuesday watch parties at the Des Moines Public Library (1000 Grand Avenue) . . . a party at Iowa State Memorial Union (2229 Lincoln Way) . . . and at Iowa City Public Library (123 South Linn). And from 6-8pm on Tuesday evening, supporters are invited to the "Making the Case" reception, celebrating the historic hearing, at the Pappajohn Center at 1200 Grand Avenue in Des Moines.

For more information on the Varnum case, and marriage equality in Iowa, visit One Iowa online . . . and don't forget to tune in on Tuesday mroning for live coverage of these historic hearings.

'Tru Loved' Goes on Tour

Following its highly-publicized premieres at Newfest in New York and Outfest in Los Angeles, Stewart Wade's film, Tru Loved, is touring the country in 2009, with screenings throughout the southeast, including stops in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida.

The Bay Area Reporter recently called the film "A PFLAG Dawson's Creek," noting that, "The talented core cast, Townsend, Thompson, Olson and Abel, convince us they could actually deliver a queer, star-crossed-lovers West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet."

Now, embarking on a tour with the Southern Arts Federation, Tru Loved will be coming to small towns and cities that traditionally don't showcase LGBT films. Here's a sneak peek at some early 2009 screenings:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Florida Community College
Nassau Campus-Nassau Center
Yulee, FL

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
Louisville, KY

Thursday, February 5, 2009
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC

Friday, February 6, 2009
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art College of Charleston
Charleston, SC

Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Imperial Theatre
Augusta, GA

Sunday, February 8, 2009
Mobile Arts Council
Mobile, AL

Monday, February 9, 2009
Nickelodeon Theatre
Columbia, SC

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Capri Theatre
Montgomery, AL

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Millsaps College
Jackson, MS

Friday, February 13, 2009
The Arts Council of Central Louisiana
Alexandria, LA

For more information, visit the Federation's website, or the official homepage for Tru Loved.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Turning Legal Tide Calls "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Into Question

The federal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that prohibits lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from serving openly in the armed forces has suffered another setback. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused, on Thursday, to reconsider a recent court decision calling the constitutionality of the law into question. Falling short of the 14 votes needed for a new hearing, the judges of the Ninth Circuit declined to re-visit the case of Air Force Major Margaret Witt. Major Witt was suspended in 2004, and ultimately dismissed from the service in 2007, for her relationship with another woman. In May, the court rejected the government's argument that Witt's dismissal was necessary in order to preserve military readiness. On Thursday, the full Ninth Circuit implicitly agreed by rejecting the Pentagon's challenge to that ruling.

The Ninth Circuit ruling follows campaign pledges by President-Elect Obama to dump the 15-year-old law, and comes on the heels of news that straight service personnel largely do not care about their fellow troops' sexual orientation. A recent Zogby poll, for example, found that, by and large, allowing openly gay service members into the armed forces would be a non-event for those already wearing our nation's uniform. Most already know someone who is lesbian or gay, or believe there are already gay colleagues in their units. And just as the Pentagon was unable to produce a single piece of evidence indicating that Major Witt was anything but a stellar Air Force officer who had the respect of those she served with, the services have also been unable to prop-up the tired and outdated argument that repealing the ban would weaken our nation's forces.

The Ninth Circuit ruling is significant, as it represents a new school of legal thought that stands in stark contrast to rulings in the early-to-mid 90s. Those court opinions largely held "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to be necessary, constitutional and solidly within the bounds of so-called "military deference." More than a decade later, with overwhelming public support and a growing Congressional consensus for repeal, judges are re-thinking those theories and taking a hard look at how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is actually implemented and how our country treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patriots.

Continue reading this post at HuffingtonPost.com . . .

PFLAG Expands in Illinois


The Northern Star, the newspaper of record at Northern Illinois University, recently reported on plans by PFLAG to establish a new chapter in DeKalb County, Illinois, expanding our presence in the midwest as that region prepares to tackle important LGBT issues, including legislation in the Illinois Legislature to recognize LGBT relationships. The new PFLAG chapter, the paper reports, will be in the community - and on the ground - by the end of the current school year.

"By gaining advocacy, PFLAG hopes to prompt communities and their members to speak up about favorable LGBT opportunities, and speak out against practices that are unfavorable to them," PFLAG National president John Cepek told the paper.

“In rural areas, by their very nature, people are separated; nothing beats two or more people getting together in a room and talking about their lives,” he added.

PFLAG DeKalb County plans to hold its meetings at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 158 N. Fourth Street, and, “As a denomination we support and except the full integration of LGBT people in our congregation,” said the Rev. Linda Slabon. “We would be delighted to have them.”

To read the Northern Star's full story, click here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrating Diversity, and Safety

Amid concerns that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students have faced harassment on campus, hundreds of students at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) attended the "Safety is a Human Right" rally yesterday.

The diverse gathering is described as "historic" by the Colorado Springs Gazette, in that as one faculty member commented, "There isn't a history of peaceful speak-outs here, especially that have included blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders."

Ayden Merino, a gay freshman and one of the organizers said he's experienced gay bashing and that many of his peers have, too. "We're saying as a community: ‘We're not going to tolerate it,'" he said.

Earlier this year there was a controversy on campus when student body president David Williams declined to sign off on a funding request for a National Coming Out Day observance in October, citing his "personal convictions."

There is currently a petition to have Williams recalled. In the meantime, students at UCCS remain hopeful about creating change. Nancy-Jo Morris, who leads a support group called Peak Area Gender Expression, challenged rally-goers: "You don't have to love me but I do expect you to respect me."

Where We Go From Here: PFLAG on Proud FM Radio

PFLAG was recently invited to join Proud FM in Toronto for a discussion of November 4 ballot measures that blocked and rolled back marriage equality in Florida, Arizona and California.

Our interview with the station is now available online, by clicking here. Tune in to hear PFLAG's take on Proposition 8, marriage equality and where we go after November 4th in the fight to protect our families.

PFLAG's Proud FM interview is online here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shop PFLAG This Holiday Season and Show Your True Colors

The True Colors Online Charity Auction, benefiting PFLAG starts today!

We are excited to launch the 1st Annual True Colors Online Charity Auction in support of LGBT Equality! 100% of the net proceeds will benefit PFLAG, the True Colors Fund and CenterLink. Find the perfect holiday gift and give back at the same time!

Don’t miss your chance to win once in a lifetime experiences and exciting memorabilia, like:

A 1-hour voice lesson, as well as lunch, with Cyndi Lauper in New York City, 2 roundtrip domestic tickets on American Airlines and a 2 night stay at Hotel on Rivington included!



Lunch with Imagine You & Me co-stars Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) and Lena Heady (Sarah Connor Chronicles)!



Lunch with Luke & Noah, Van Hansis & Jake Silbermann, from As The World Turns!





2 VIP Tickets to The View and Meet & Greet with Whoopi Goldberg!



Special Items donated by celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Patti LaBelle, Miley Cyrus and Carole King!



Special True Colors 2008 memorabilia, including the main curtain and backdrop!

Personal experiences with True Colors artists, like the Indigo Girls, Margaret Cho and Carson Kressley!

Special items from True Colors artists, like Sarah McLachlan, Tegan & Sara, Fred Schenider of The B-52s!

and much much more...

So, check out what is up for auction and check back often as we will continue to post new items over the next two weeks!

Out for Equality: The LGBT Inaugural Commemoration

PFLAG is proud to join with the Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and other LGBT allies for 'Out for Equality,' commemorating the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama.

OUT FOR EQUALITY
The LGBT community commemoration of
Barack Obama & Joe Biden’s Inauguration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
7 p.m. - Midnight

Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

Featuring entertainment and appearances by
Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Thelma Houston
and others to be announced

Open bar and cocktail buffet

Tickets
$350 per person before December 16
$375 thereafter

Attire: Festive or Formal

Tickets on sale now at
www.boxofficetickets.com/outforequality

Brought to you by:

Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund & Leadership Institute, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG, GLAAD, National Black Justice Coalition, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Freedom to Marry, BiNet USA, Dignity USA, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Equality Federation, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National Coalition for LGBT Health, LGBT Community Center of NY, International Federation of Black Prides, Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Family Equality Coalition

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Steve Krantz asks, "Got Milk?"

I had the wondrous experience of watching [the new movie Milk] with my son. It was very moving and instructive, especially in light of the lost Prop 8 battle.

In the film, Milk made the point that the gay community needed to "come out" and show themselves to the public in order to win the vote on Proposition 6 - at that time in the early 70s bigots were trying to fire all gay teachers in CA. The good citizens of California voted down Proposition 6 then, but failed to do so for Proposition 8, where our gay families were mostly kept hidden.

As I contemplate this, I think about Evan Wolfson's (www.freedomtomarry.org) advice about how to conduct the fight for our families' equal rights - he recommends that if we conduct our campaigns properly we will "lose forward", meaning that even in defeat if we educate the public about our families, in the long run we will win. I agree.

As our battle to undo Prop 8 moves forward, I hope that we keep Evan's principle in mind.

-Steve Krantz
PFLAG Director, Southern Pacific Region, and National Board Member

Monday, December 1, 2008

Marriage Equality in the Heartland?

On next Tuesday, December 9, the Iowa State Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case for marriage equality.

Some background on the case:

The debate over the future of Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act, a decade-old law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, comes after a ruling by a lower court judge last year.

Iowa District Court for Polk County Judge Robert Hanson ruled in August 2007 that the act violated the state constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. The ruling stood for less than 24 hours before a Polk County attorney filed an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.



In an interesting turn of events, only one couple was able to complete the process before marriage equality was put on hold pending appeal. The PFLAG National Blog profiled the couple back in August of this year. The future of their marriage status, and the future of marriage equality in Iowa hang in the balance of the state supreme court's ruling. Personally, I think it would be a great thing to have marriage equality come to the Midwest, and not simply be seen as only for the East and West coasts. Stay tuned to see the outcome of the December 9 arguments.

Join PFLAG and the Cincinnati Men's Chorus...

Attention all Kentucky and Ohio PFLAGers!

The Berea, KY PFLAG chapter is proud to announce its sponsorship of a free performance by the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus. The holiday event (again, free!) will be held at 7pm on Saturday, December 13 at the Union Church (213 Prospect St) across from Boone Tavern on the Berea College Campus.

Doors open at 6pm and donations are welcome.

If you have any questions, please contact the Berea chapter at 859-358-5610 or email bereapflag@hotmail.com.

-Erin Cranford Williams