June 28th, The Center for Community Growth partnered with the Indiana Cares Campaign (ICC) to End Homophobia. The event included a panel discussion from LGBT activists, and a screening of the film 8: The Mormon Proposition. Indiana Pride 2013 came at a timely moment, the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act just a few days before.
Lynn Alvine, the moderator of the night’s panel and longtime activist with the Indiana Cares Campaign and the IUP Safe Zone, admitted during the panel that the recent events changed her outlook on the film. “I had seen the film once before, and to be honest, if it weren’t for Wednesday’s events, I wouldn’t have been able to watch it again tonight.”
In addition to Dr. Alvine, the panel featured local and Pittsburgh-area activists coming from all kinds of viewpoints.
Rita Drapkin, who works at IUP’s Counseling Center, is greatly involved with making sure that IUP is a safe place for LGBTQ students as a founder of the IUP Safe Zone and a member of the IUP LGBT Commission and PASSHE LGBTQIA Consortium.
Dave Porter works with both the university and the local community by working with the Indiana Cares Campaign and the Indiana LGBT Film Festival.
Reverend Joan Sabatino, the minister of Indiana’s First Unitarian
Universalist Church and an ally to the LGBTQ community, works with the IUP LGBT Commission and performs same-gender marriage ceremonies for LGBTQ couples.
Bonnie Humphrey is president of the New Castle chapter of PFLAG as well as the advocacy chair for Pittsburgh’s chapter of PFLAG. Ted Hoover works at PERSAD, America’s second oldest mental health center that specifically serves the LGBTQ community, and he is the coordinator of the Safe Zone there.
While each panelist celebrated the Supreme Court victory, they all agreed that for many in the community, the right to marry is a symbolic victory, and what folks really need is job protections.
The Center for Community Growth will be researching how we in Indiana County can use the DOMA decision to move the conversation forward with regard to equal rights. One place to start would be for Indiana County and local municipalities to adopt policies which protect workers from discrimination due to sexual orientation. Perhaps there’s a nondiscrimination ordinance in the county’s future!