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 DignityUSA Sponsors Seventh Annual Solidarity Sunday Observance

 Washington, DC, October 4, 2001 —DignityUSA announced today that the Seventh Annual Solidarity Sunday is being celebrated nationwide on Sunday, October 7. The program is a faith-based initiative with the goal of ending violence of all types directed towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

"The concept of Solidarity Sunday is very simple," said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy. "We ask people to wear a piece of rainbow ribbon, take a pledge to work for an end to anti-gay violence, and, if they're comfortable, say a brief prayer. We based the project in churches, synagogues and mosques because so much anti-gay violence is supported by religious rhetoric. Solidarity Sunday gives people of faith the chance to demonstrate what's really at the heart of religion — tolerance, inclusion and respect."

Mary Louise Cervone, President of DignityUSA, reflected on Solidarity Sunday's meaning in light of the recent terrorist attacks on the US. "We're experiencing a wonderful period of national unity in the aftermath of these horrific events," she said. "It's important that we remember that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are a part of our country, and that violence should never be directed at us. Some people are looking for scapegoats for the attack, and folks like Jerry Falwell think that should be the gay community. It's critical at this time to stand against all violence, all hatred. We should be united as a people. I think it will mean a lot to our community to see people wearing the rainbow ribbon along with their red, white and blue."

DignityUSA has dedicated this year's observance of Solidarity Sunday to its first National Director, Bruce Jarstfer, MD of San Antonio, TX. Jarstfer is credited with developing this initiative, initially directed exclusively to Catholic Churches, into a multi-denominational national project involving hundreds of thousands of people each year. The program has received support from former President Bill Clinton, former Vice-President Al Gore, Governors Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and John Rowland of Connecticut, a dozen members of Congress and numerous organizations.

DignityUSA is the nation's oldest and largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent non-profit with members and chapters throughout the United States.