In my tenure at PFLAG, I’ve had the privilege to serve the organization under the leadership of two board presidents. The first of these was Sam Thoron…and anyone who knows Sam also knows that never far away from Sam is his wife, Julia. Together, they have provided years of leadership to PFLAG on both a local and national level, and it is rare to meet a PFLAGer who has come in contact with them who cannot speak of how the Thorons touched their lives.
Equality California recently honored the Thorons with the Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin Marriage Equality Award, recognizing their tremendous contributions to the fight for marriage equality and especially the battle to defeat Proposition 8. For those who have not had the chance to meet the Thorons in person and experience the passion that they have for securing the right to marry for everyone need not look much further than the commercial that they did during the Prop 8 fight in 2007. As PFLAG’s president, Sam always encouraged people to tell their family stories to change hearts and minds, and just listening to some of the voices that he and Julia have influenced proves that they are right. ~PFLAG Executive Director Jody Huckaby
In Julia's remarks, she reminded the audience that PFLAG is for everyone and she pleaded with everyone to join. Sam gave the following acceptance speech:
"We are deeply grateful for this honor, for this recognition of our part in the struggle to secure full marriage equality, full equality for all. Thank you.
Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, pioneers and giants in our movement. We stand on their shoulders and on the shoulders of all the heroes who have gone before us. Without their courage, leadership and commitment we would not be here today.
Even now, we are not alone. We share this honor with all who are working so diligently toward our common goal. We stand shoulder with you.
Our work is far from over. There has been lot of research in recent months and we are seeing a pattern. It goes something like this: The person in the focus group says: “I work with several gays and lesbians, and they are great people, but not one of them has ever talked to me about the importance of marriage equality. If the freedom to marry is not important to them why should it matter to me?”
The message is clear. We are not asking for the support that we need. We all have powerful stories that will move hearts and change minds, but we are not telling them.
We have many potential allies who are simply waiting for us to ask for their support. There are many on the fence who will join us if we reach out to them. We can even change the hearts of many decent, fair minded folks who have so far opposed us.
You are not having enough of those sometimes awkward conversations. They are long overdue. If it feels risky, think about our commercial.
You have honored us for taking that risk on your behalf. Now it is your turn. What is more important to you – Respect – Dignity – Full Equality, - or your comfort zone?
Go forth and multiply – the message. Let’s change the world."