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Washington, DC — March 9, 1998 — DignityUSA agrees with the conclusion of the Southern Poverty Law Center's report "The Year in Hate" — hate crimes are on the rise and are reaching new heights.

The conclusions drawn by the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project are unfortunately very accurate and not very surprising. Violence, both physical and verbal, directed toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is an everyday reality. "As long as negative words are used to describe gay men and lesbians, we will continue to be the victims of hatred and violence," says Charles Cox, Executive Director of DignityUSA.

Cox also said, "Verbal and physical acts of violence directed toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community may begin spontaneously, however these violent acts all too often find their inspiration in the words of religious and political leaders who stand in opposition to basic civil rights for our community. As long as opposition to lesbian and gay civil rights is sanctioned and endorsed by religious and political leaders we will not see an end to hate crimes."

DignityUSA in its efforts to oppose violence and intolerance toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has established Solidarity Sunday. This year Solidarity Sunday is on October 4th. Solidarity Sunday was started in 1994, as an effort to educate the wider community about the devastating effects of homophobia and violence against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons. In 1994, Dignity distributed 50,000 rainbow ribbons and cards, and in 1997 over 100,000 ribbons were distributed across the country. Solidarity Sunday has become so noteworthy, that in 1997 both President Clinton and Vice President Gore publicly endorsed its efforts.

For further information regarding Solidarity Sunday (October 4, 1998) contact DignityUSA at 202/861.0017 or Bruce S. Jarstfer, MD and Marianne T. Duddy, National-Coordinators for Solidarity Sunday, P.O. Box 701592, San Antonio, Texas 78270-1592.

Founded in 1969, DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, and their families and friends.