Thursday, November 21, 2013

PFLAG National Leaders Stand With Rev. Frank Schaefer


PFLAG National leadership of strong and varied faith traditions, including longtime clergy from UMC, issue statements in support of Rev. Schaefer and his family
Today, the leadership of PFLAG National--the nation’s largest organization for parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)--issued public statements in support of Rev. Frank Schaefer, the Pennsylvania-based United Methodist pastor who was given a 30-day suspension after officiating at the wedding of his openly gay son.

Rabbi David M. Horowitz,
PFLAG National President
PFLAG National President Rabbi David M. Horowitz stated, “My eyes began to tear as I read about the trial and penalty levied against Rev. Schaefer, whose only crime was loving his son and loving all the members of his flock, LGBT and straight.  As a rabbi, I am lucky to be able to officiate at same-sex wedding ceremonies, and did so for my daughter and her partner, as well as many other loving couples. As any clergy person knows, we are able to be the conduit by which spiritual significance bathes a couple's bond with one another.  To be punished for doing so defies both logic and religious sensibilities, and to be forced to choose between one’s faith and one’s family defies any moral justification; it is like asking which child one loves most.”


Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell,
PFLAG National Board Member
PFLAG National board member Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell said, “Though now retired, I have been an ordained UMC minister for 57 years and I am saddened that my denomination has not only limited the lives of clergy who are openly gay, it has prohibited clergy from providing ministry for same-sex couples who wish to have a union or a marriage. Penalizing Rev. Schaefer, a father who--as a father--ministered to his child by officiating at his wedding, is nothing less than devastating. I and the other PFLAG National board members express the strongest solidarity with Rev. Schaefer and his family.”


Jody M. Huckaby,
PFLAG National Exec. Dir.
And PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby said, “As part of a large Catholic family whose faith tradition goes back generations, I know how difficult it was for my own parents to resolve their religious beliefs with the love of their children who are LGBT. But they prayed often, talked to others who made the same journey, opened their hearts, and ultimately allowed love to conquer their fears...all while maintaining their lifelong Catholic faith. And that took courage, the same kind of courage being demonstrated now by Rev. Schaefer, a kind of courage which is far too seldom witnessed in faith communities.”


“Now is the time,” said Huckaby, “for religious leaders not only to stand in solidarity with Rev. Frank Schaefer, but also to lift him up and celebrate his courage for allowing his love of family to prevail above all else. PFLAG members and supporters everywhere hold a special place in their hearts for Rev. Schaefer and his family.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance Starts at Home

This year in honor of the International Transgender Day of Remembrance,  we hear a personal account from PFLAG National Director of Policy Diego Sanchez: 

Each November 20 marks The International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a date on which we ask the world to stop and note the disproportionate annual tally and tales of reported murders or other untimely deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people globally. Each year, equally as disturbing as the number is the nuance, actually naming the severity of the attacks that generally exceed what would suffice as mortal force. View those being memorialized this year.  You can see the most current information by following on Twitter.


This year for me is a landmark. It’s been 15 years since the brutal murder of Rita Hester, my Massachusetts African-American transsexual sister, whose 34-year-old dead body was found by police in her first-floor apartment in Allston on November 28, 1998, having succumbed after receiving more than 20 stab wounds in the chest.  Her murder was casually investigated in 1998, having occurred shortly after the also-brutal murder of Matthew Shepard that led to vigils and a meaningful map-charting set of memorials from coast to coast. Rita’s murder investigation was quickly closed, reopened in 2006 at the request of her mother, but it remains unsolved.

The nation didn’t immediately honor the memory and loss of the beautiful, always-smiling, intelligent, elegant Rita. She was gone, and the local Boston newspapers – mainstream and LGBT alike – misnamed and misidentifiedher even when asked not to, sloppily linking unfounded allegations about Rita alongside facts. The fact was that she was horridly murdered in her own home, and media reported it without care, respect or regard for her or for the transgender community, including those of us who were local and friends of hers. Then-budding trans activist Gunner Scott mobilized the Lesbian Avengers to picket the newspapers’ offices, and I, with my communications expertise, worked to get media to give Rita’s memory due respect.

We as a trans and ally community in Massachusetts came together differently than we ever had before. The juxtaposition of how each horrid murder was treated differently while occurring so close to each other in time –- Matthew’s embraced and mourned afterwards and Rita’s ignored with intentional disrespect -- was too much to take as water off a duck’s back. Even in our grief, we came together a week later to hold a vigil and procession in Allston, and we held a service at our LGBT and ally community haven, the historic Arlington Street Church, where Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie guided and comforted us with care and love as she always has and still does.

Longtime transgender activist and leader Nancy Nangeroniin 1998 wrote a touching tribute song titled In Memory of Rita that I consider standard fare for Transgender Day of Remembrance experience, and you can listen to and watch her video of it, produced by Nancy and her partnerGordene McKenzie.

For every year her health could endure, Rita’s mother joined us at the Boston TDOR event annually, and she spoke with love of Rita. There is no mistaking that mom’s love for her child and the pain of loss with which she lives, which you can hear captured in Nancy’s video tribute at the link above.

While each year we look at the long list of lost transgender and gender non-conforming people, read the names and how they died at the candlelight vigils and relive annually what familial loss feels like, there is light glowing at each candle’s end. That light is global because of one woman’s passionGwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender columnist and writer in San Francisco, whose vision in 1999 transformed the commonly felt loss and lift in our community into what today is honored worldwide: The International Transgender Day of Remembrance. You can read more about and from Gwen.

Gwen organized a vigil in San Francisco one year after Rita died, named it the Transgender Day of Remembrance and began tallying the reported murders and other driven deaths of transgender people year-round. Transgender radio host and activist Ethan St. Pierre of Massachusetts, whose transgender aunt Deborah Forte was brutally murdered in 1995picked up the gauntlet first with, and then fromGwen and today, transgender writer and activist Marti Abernathy and he selflessly share the labor of loss and love with the world.  Their work is what gives everyone who wishes a chance to honor our lost trans family memberswhile also celebrating our lives. It’s important to stop and sense the real fear with which so many, including me, live each day, wondering if when we will make it to return safely home, if we have one. It’s also powerful to honor the great work and emotional powering-through that Gwen, Ethan and Marti have endured so that no one, not one life, has to be forgotten and so that no life is lost in vain.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Press Release: PFLAG NATIONAL CELEBRATES HAWAII MARRIAGE EQUALITY VICTORY!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 12, 2013
Liz Owen |
lowen@pflag.org> | (202) 467-8180 ext. 214

PFLAG NATIONAL CELEBRATES HAWAII MARRIAGE EQUALITY VICTORY!
WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for parents, families, friends and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)—has issued the following statement from Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby regarding today’s vote in favor of marriage equality in Hawaii:
 
“We applaud the Hawaii legislature for voting with The Aloha Spirit in favor of marriage equality; clearly, the
hard work of the past months resonated with legislators and helped to change hearts and minds on this important issue. PFLAG families will celebrate with their LGBT loved ones, who can now legally marry the people they love in their hometowns. We are thrilled to celebrate this victory with our friends at Hawaii United for Marriage and Equality Hawaii.”

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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. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now in its 41st year, 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 www.pflag.org.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Press Release: PFLAG NATIONAL STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF INCLUSIVE ENDA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2013
Liz Owen |
lowen@pflag.org> | (202) 467-8180 ext. 214
PFLAG NATIONAL STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF INCLUSIVE ENDA
WASHINGTON, D.C.– PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for families, friends and allies of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)—today issued the following statement from its Executive Director, Jody M. Huckaby, on the U.S. Senate’s passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA):
“Today is a great day for all Americans as the United States Senate—with a bipartisan majority—recognized the need for legal protection of workplace fairness by passing an inclusive ENDA. PFLAGers from all over the country have been speaking to their legislators on this very important issue, and hearing time and again that their advocacy on behalf of their LGBT loved ones has played a big part in changing hearts and minds on this crucial issue.
This vote echoes the majority of Americans who believe that all workers should be evaluated based on their skills, not based on who they are or whom they love, proving once again that PFLAG’s values are America’s values. Now that the Senate has voted, Speaker Boehner must recognize this majority, and bring an inclusive ENDA to a vote on the floor of the House.”

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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. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. Now in its 41st year, 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
www.pflag.org.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PFLAG NATIONAL CELEBRATES IL STATE MARRIAGE EQUALITY VICTORY!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2013
Liz Owen |
lowen@pflag.org> | (202) 467-8180 ext. 214
WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for parents, families, friends and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)—has issued the following statement from Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby regarding today’s 61–54 vote in favor of marriage equality in Illinois: 
“We applaud the Illinois legislature for its historic vote in favor of marriage equality, particularly the leadership of Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who sponsored the bill. Clearly, the hard work of the past months resonated with legislators and helped to change hearts and minds on this important issue. The rallying cry of PFLAG mother Toni Weaver, president of the PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois represented the sentiment that so many PFLAGers feel, when she stated, ‘They are our children and we will fight for them.(Begins at 1:09:00 mark).  We were moved, too, to hear the words of Braiden Neubecker—grandchild of former PFLAG National board member Mike Neubecker, whose poignant letter about her family, headed by her two dads, was published in the Windy City Times earlier this year—read during the pre-vote debate.
What a wonderful day, knowing that PFLAG families all over the state of Illinois will celebrate with their LGBT loved ones, who can now legally marry the people they love, in their hometowns. We are thrilled to celebrate this victory with our many Illinois PFLAG chapters, our long time partner, Equality Illinois, and the powerful coalition partners of Illinois Unites for Marriage.  We urge Governor Quinn to quickly sign the legislation, as he has promised, that will allow loving and committed couples to marry in Illinois.”

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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. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now in its 41st year, 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 www.pflag.org.