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Highlights of DignityUSA's History: 1978

The following history is based on the commemorative booklet entitled DignityUSA at 25: A Chronology, 1969-1994 compiled by former DignityUSA President Pat Roche. Copies are available from the Dignity national office and were also printed in the Dignity Journal 27:2-3 (Autumn 1995). Highlights from 1995-Present compiled by former Dignity Vice President Pat McArron.
  • On January 3, the National Officers and Regional Directors are informed that Walter Kay has resigned as President. Per the Constitution and By-Laws, Carla Kaesbauer, national secretary, assumes the office of President on a temporary basis.

  • On March 11-12, the first meeting of the new Board of Directors is held in San Diego.
  • On April 1-2, Dignity/Ottawa hosts the first Canadian Conference of Dignity chapters at the University of Ottawa. Speakers include Gregory Baum; Sister Jeannine Gramick; Brian McNaught and Father Robert Nugent. Carla Kaesbauer, Acting President and Secretary, and Madeline Ritchie, Treasurer, attend the conference.
  • On April 25, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • On May 9, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in Wichita, Kansas. Dignity/Wichita, a chapter in formation headed by Martin Mendoza, joins forces with the Catholic Worker movement and asks Dignity national and regional to help fight the ordinance. Dignity/Chicago responds by printing 50,000 pamphlets. Region VI brings in a busload of volunteers to help leaflet Wichita churches the Sunday before the election. Dignity National Officers Madeline Ritchie and Carla Kaesbauer fly in along with Bud Guiles, National newsletter editor, and Jim Wolfe, Social Action Committee Chair. Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent come from Washington DC. Dignity/Los Angeles sends Father Jim Fleck and a check to pay for an ad in the Wichita paper the day before the election.
  • On May 19, it is announced that Paul C. Weidig, Sacramento, has been elected President of Dignity to fill the remainder of Walter Kay’s term.

  • On May 23, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in Eugene, Oregon.
  • The success and momentum of homophobic bigotry encourage California State Senator John Briggs to get Proposition 6 (an anti-gay teacher proposal) on the November ballot. Jim Highland assisted by Sister Eileen DeLong and Father Jim Fleck, forms Catholics for Human Dignity (CHD), the first statewide political lobby for Catholics advocating human rights for gay and lesbian people. CHD designs a button that helps raise almost $15,000 to educate and politicize Catholics around the gay rights issue. CHD also awards its Pro Patria et Ecclesia award to leaders who oppose the Proposition including Governors Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan, Mayor Tom Bradley and members of the Los Angeles City Council. Proposition 6 is defeated.
  • Once planned to be the last edition, the Summer issue of INSIGHT "becomes not an end but a gateway to greater outreach to the non-gay communities of the Christian Churches."
  • From June 1-10, Paul Weidig represents Dignity at the Acceptance convention in Sydney, Australia.

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