DignityUSA History

  • 1969


    Early in 1969, Father Patrick X. Nidorf, O.S.A., an Augustinian priest and psychologist, starts a ministry for gay and lesbian Catholics as an extension of his professional work. Father Pat would later describe the beginnings of Dignity in his own words as follows:

    "The Catholic gay people whom I had met were frequently bothered by ethical problems and identity with the Church. It seemed obvious that the Church wasn't meeting the needs of the gay community. In counseling gay Catholics, there always seemed to be an excessive and unreal problem of guilt that was sometimes reinforced in the confessional instead of being resolved. With these ideas rattling around in my brain, I wrote a paper on a proposed group for Catholic gays and presented it to our members at a Provincial meeting. Most of the priests seemed to favor the idea of forming such a group and I did."

  • 1969


    Word of the new ministry spreads first by word of mouth and later Father Pat places advertisements in the Los Angeles Free Press asking people to contact him in San Diego for discussion and possible meetings. Since he doesn't want religious fanatics or homophobics to disrupt or dominate meetings, he requires the return of a completed application form (and when in doubt a personal interview). He charges $5 a year for participation and requires that all be 21 years of age and have a membership card, which he issues. The monthly gatherings are closed to anyone else.

  • 1969


    After several meetings are held in San Diego and alternately in Los Angeles (because that's where the majority of respondents to the ads live), Father Pat decides to have all gatherings in Los Angeles where the sessions are held in private homes.

  • 1969


    Father Pat writes and distributes a kind of information letter to members giving the date and location of the next meeting. (The earliest issue of this newsletter on file at the International Gay Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles is dated February, 1970.)

  • 1969


    Father Pat later notes that "the name Dignity just came to me as appropriate since one of our basic goals was to bring dignity into the spiritual and social lives of some very special people."

  • 1970


    In January, Dignity places its first ad in the Advocate:

    "Catholic Gays

    Join DIGNITY, a Catholic group of intelligent gay men and women. We share successful ways of bringing dignity into our lives. Honest talk/ sensitivity/sincere people. Applicants screened. Write: Fr. Pat, Box 4486, N. Park St., San Diego, CA 92104."

  • 1970


    Dignity continues to advertise in the Los Angeles Free Press as well as the Advocate and membership steadily increases. Although located in Los Angeles, Dignity from the very beginning attracts members-at-large from around the country who join in response to the ads.

  • 1970


    In May, Father Pat asks Bob Fourier to draw up a Constitution for Dignity. Bob writes the first draft of Dignity's Statement of Position and Purpose. The second paragraph of the original statement, which has played such a pivotal part in Dignity's evolution, read as follows:

    "We believe that homosexuality is a natural variation on the use of sex. It implies no sickness or immorality. Those with such sexual orientation have a natural right to use their power of sex in a way that is both responsible and fulfilling.... and should use it with a sense of pride."

  • 1970


    In June, Bob Fourier is appointed by Father Nidorf as the first General Chairman of Dignity.

  • 1970


    On September 26, Dignity's first meeting on Church property is held in the basement auditorium of St. Brendan's Parish in Los Angeles.

  • 1970


    Throughout the year, three articles on homosexuality by Father John McNeill, S.J., New York City, appear in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

  • 1971


    The membership becomes more and more active and wants recognition from the Los Angeles Diocese. Although Father Nidorf does not think sending a letter to the Bishop is prudent, "after continual prodding" a letter is sent. It does not meet with favorable results. The Bishop sends for Father Nidorf.

  • 1971


    On February 11, Father Nidorf and the Provincial of his Augustinian Order meet with Los Angeles Co-Adjutor Archbishop Timothy Manning, who is offended that Father Nidorf is working in the Los Angeles diocese without his permission and thinks that the principles of Dignity are "untenable." The Archbishop forbids Father Pat to have anything further to do with the group, and Father decides to respect the Archbishop’s wishes.

  • 1971


    On February 20, Father Nidorf announces his resignation to some ninety members of Dignity at the group’s monthly potluck/meeting. Gloom turns to determination after an inspiring talk by Bob Fournier, and the group strongly agrees to continue Dignity as a lay led ministry.

  • 1971


    On March 10, the first national Dignity Newsletter is published. Bob Fournier is the Editor.

  • 1971


    On March 20, Dignity begins a monthly speakers program in conjunction with its meetings. The first speaker is Evelyn Hooker, Ph.D., Research Psychologist at UCLA.

  • 1971


    In April, annual Dignity dues are raised to $10.

  • 1971


    From August 13-15, Dignity’s first retreat is held at St. Andrew’s Benedictine Priory in Valyermo, California.

  • 1971


    The following appears in the September 5 newsletter:

    "OUTSIDE LOS ANGELES: If you live outside the Los Angeles area, why not try to organize a chapter of Dignity for your area. Write to Joe Gilgamesh for particulars. It would be a great thing if gay Catholics could be organized throughout the country. Our voice would be much more effective in the Church if coming from one organization. We would have a common clearinghouse of ideas and eventually a national Board of Directors. Think about it. Contact others. Let’s hear from you."

  • 1971


    In November, Dignity/Louisville becomes the first chapter of Dignity outside Southern California.

  • 1972


    On February 19, the First Annual Meeting of Dignity is held in Los Angeles. Seventy-four members attend the Potluck Dinner/Election including 22 priests. The membership committee reports that "Dignity has 198 members, including 25 priests, four brothers and two seminarians. 108 members are from the Los Angeles area. The others are from twenty states and the District of Columbia as well as seven countries (Philippines, Australia, Canada, West Indies, England, Holland, Switzerland)." New officers elected at the meeting are:

    • Joe Gilgamesh, President
    • Jerry August, Vice President
    • Ron Aviano, Secretary
    • Ken Pavlick, Treasurer (*)

    (*) Bill Washburn assumes the Treasurer’s position in October, 1972.

  • 1972


    In March, Dignity/Los Angeles begins to meet at the Los Angeles Community College Newman Center.

  • 1972


    On March 16, the National Federation of Priests Councils passes a resolution calling for the formation of a task force to develop a model for Christian ministry to the homosexual community.

  • 1972


    On June 23, an article on Dignity appears in "The Reporters Notebook" column of the National Catholic Reporter.

  • 1972


    In August, Dignity produces six performances of the play "The Fantasticks" as a fund raising project.

  • 1972


    In September, Joe Gilgamesh tours various cities around the country including Chicago, Washington DC, Louisville, Boston and New York City to talk with individuals interested in the Dignity movement. (Prior to going to New York, Gilgamesh corresponds with Father John McNeill. He tells him about Dignity and asks permission to reprint the articles from the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, which are the basis for the original Statement of Position and Purpose. for Dignity members. Father McNeill grants permission and also, at Joe Gilgamesh’s request, works to convene the first meeting of Dignity/New York. In response to an ad in the Village Voice, over 200 attend this meeting which is held in October.)

  • 1972


    In October, Pat Allen travels to meet with individuals interested in forming Dignity chapters in Washington DC, Baltimore, New York and Boston.

  • 1972


    On October 30, an Administrative Services Group (ASG) is formed to oversee all aspects of Dignity outside of Los Angeles. The ASG is in essence the embryo out of which DignityUSA and the "national" Dignity movement was to grow. ASG responsibilities are divided as follows:

    • Pat Allen (Responsible for overseeing all Chapters outside of the Los Angeles area)
    • Bob Fournier (National Newsletter)
    • Ron Aviano (Recording Secretary)
    • Larry Collison (Secretary)
    • Bill Washburn (Treasurer)
    • Charlie Wells (Publications)

     

  • 1972


    In December, Dignity's Statement of Position and Purpose is forwarded on national office letterhead to all members as an attachment to the monthly newsletter. The letterhead lists ten chapters of Dignity: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Louisville, Chicago, San Diego, Washington DC, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.

  • 1973


    In September, the provisional Constitution is sent to all members along with a ballot via the national newsletter.
  • 1973


    In October, the National Office relocates from Los Angeles to 755 Boylston Street, Room #514, Boston.
  • 1974


    In the January issue of the national newsletter, it is reported that "the proposed Constitution has failed to be ratified by the required two-thirds of the votes cast." Concerns include lack of representation for "at large" members who don’t belong to an official Dignity chapter; the unwieldy size of the Board of Governors as chapter growth continues etc
  • 1974


    In February, The National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Research Committee publishes Principles to Guide Confessors in Questions of Homosexuality.
  • 1974


    The February 15 issue of Commonweal carries an article by theologian Gregory Baum entitled "Catholic Homosexuals." The national newsletter calls the article "a milestone in the Gay Catholic movement."
  • 1974


    In March, the National Federation of Priests Councils adopts a "Civil Rights of Homosexual Persons" resolution which reads:
    "BE IT RESOLVED that the NFPC hereby declares its opposition to all civil laws which make consensual homosexual acts between adults a crime and thus urges their repeal; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NFPC also express its opposition to homosexuality as such being the basis of discrimination against homosexuals in employment, governmental services, housing and child rearing involving natural or adoptive parents."
  • 1974


    On March 17, Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic weekly, recommends to a reader in its question and answer column that Dignity be contacted for information on ministry to homosexuals.
  • 1974


    During the week of June 3-7, a Conference on Gay Ministry is held at Bergamo Center in Dayton, Ohio. Presenters include Father Tom Oddo (National Secretary) and Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND (CO-Chaplain of Dignity/Baltimore.)

  • 1974


    During the last weekend of June, some 150 Dignity members from around the country (led by the three national officers) march in New York’s Gay Pride Parade.
  • 1974


    In July, Brian McNaught, President of Dignity/Detroit and a columnist for The Michigan Catholic has his weekly column dropped after an interview about him and Dignity/Detroit is published in the Detroit News.
  • 1974


    In August, James Osbourne of New York founds Dignity’s National Prison Ministry.
  • 1974


    Over Labor Day Weekend, the national officers and other gay religious leaders from around the country attend a conference in Detroit sponsored by Dignity/Detroit. The purpose of the conference is to provide input on a major report the Catholic Theological Association’s Committee on Sexuality plans to issue in June; to support Brian McNaught in his struggles with The Michigan Catholic and to meet with representatives of the Salvatorian Order who have formed a Gay Ministry Task Force within their Justice and Peace Commission. Concrete plans are laid to jointly edit a book on theological/pastoral resources for gays and lesbians. On Labor Day, some 250 people including representatives from seven Dignity chapters celebrate a "Mass of Solidarity" with Brian McNaught. The Mass is followed by a rally in front of the Chancery Office to continue the protest of Brian’s ill treatment.

  • 1974


    On September 14, Brian McNaught begins a water only fast to call the Church to a new recognition of its responsibilities in the area of gay civil rights. Dignity members from around the country join Brian for one day of fasting.
  • 1974


    On October 2, Bishops Thomas Gumbleton and Joseph Imesch of the Detroit Archdiocese send Brian McNaught a letter which says in part that the Catholic Church has "a serious obligation to root out structures and attitudes that discriminate against the homosexual as a person. We will exert our leadership in behalf of this effort. We hope for your continued cooperation with us in trying to achieve this goal." In the December issue of the newsletter, Paul Diederich sums up Dignity’s 1974 accomplishments as follows:
    "… we have grown from nine chapters to over thirty, our membership has tripled and then some, we’ve reached the consciousness of our Church on a number of occasions, in New York and Detroit especially. Dignity has achieved affiliation with the Salvatorian Gay Ministry Task Force, and with Acceptance, Australia’s organization for Gay Catholics. Our communications with other Gay groups, religious and secular, has been vastly enhanced. It has been a good year."
  • 1975


    In January, representatives from Acceptance, including the national coordinator, Gary Pye, meet with Dignity’s national officers in Boston and issue a joint proclamation pledging "solidarity, oneness of purpose and affiliation in the work of making Christ’s love better known to all men and women."
  • 1975


    In January, the national newsletter announces that "by a near unanimous vote of the Dignity chapters, a revised schedule of dues is effective immediately: Individual Members $15; Lovers = $25. Renewals will be at these fees when present membership expires."
  • 1975


    The May newsletter announces that "the National Office has gathered and printed a group of articles on homosexuality, written from a Catholic perspective." Called Theological/Pastoral Resources, the packet is available for $1.00 to cover printing and postage.
  • 1975


    In May, Dignity also publishes Homosexuality: A Worksheet for Catholics by Father Robert Nugent.

  • 1975


    In June, a new Constitution for Dignity is forwarded to the membership for approval after having been reviewed by the leadership of all of the chapters and overwhelmingly approved for submission to the entire membership for a vote. It calls for the formation of a "Board of Consultors which would advise and direct the National Officers in all matters of national concern." The proposed Board of Consultors would be "composed of the chief executive officer(s) of all the local chapters of Dignity as defined by the individual chapter’s by-laws."
  • 1975


    From June 16-20, the Second Annual Conference on Gay Ministry is held at Bergamo Center in Dayton, Ohio.
  • 1975


    On June 17, Paul Diederich and Father Tom Oddo along with Hal Maloney of Dignity/Washington meet with the Liaison Committee of the National Conference of Bishops (NCCB) under Bishop Warren Boudreaux at the Conference Headquarters in Washington DC. The meeting is the outcome of months of planning by the National Officers and the National Chairperson for Social Action, Brian McNaught, in cooperation with concerned people within the NCCB and the U.S. Catholic Conference. The Dignity delegation spends about an hour and a half reviewing a presentation which Bishop Boudreaux will give to all of the Bishops at their November meeting. The presentation outlines Dignity’s mission and encourages the Bishops to condemn discrimination, support civil rights and assist Dignity in our pastoral outreach to gays and lesbians.
  • 1975


    On June 29, the proposed Constitution is adopted by a vote of 92% in favor; 8% opposed.
  • 1975


    The September 8 edition of Time magazine has a cover story on homosexuality which mentions Dignity and has a picture of Dignity/Boston celebrating Eucharist.

  • 1975


    On November 16, Dignity, the Salvatorian Gay Ministry Task Force and Catholics for Gay Rights hold a National Day of Reconciliation of Gay Catholics with their Church. It is a day of prayer and fasting and includes a pilgrimage to Washington DC and attendance at the annual NCCB meeting during which Dignity representatives meet informally with Archbishop Joseph Bernardin and Bishop James Rausch, the President and General Secretary of the NCCB; and formally with the Bishops’ Liaison Committee.
  • 1975


    The December newsletter announces the publication of a 20-page booklet directed "toward Catholics at large who want to learn more about homosexuality and to gay Catholics who are attempting to integrate their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs and practices." The publication is entitled Homosexual Catholics: A Primer for Discussion and is authored by three Dignity chaplains, Sister Jeannine Gramick, Father Robert Nugent and Father Tom Oddo.
  • 1976


    On January 16, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues a document entitled Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics. In response to the document, Dignity issues a press release reaffirming "its call to the Church and the U.S. Bishops to appoint a committee of theologians, social scientists, and gay persons to more adequately study the question of homosexuality, its implications for Church and society."
  • 1976


    On June 26, Dignity’s second annual National Day of Reconciliation of Gay Catholics and their Church is held.
  • 1976


    On September 3, John J. McNeill, S.J. publishes The Church and the Homosexual. He is later forbidden by the Vatican "to write or speak on the issue of homosexuality in any of its aspects: theological, psychological or sociological." The Vatican also withdraws the imprimi Potest (permission topublish) granted two years earlier by McNeill’s Jesuit Provincial after four years of peer review by moral theologians both in the United States and Rome, all of whom approved publication.
  • 1976


    On September 16, Paul Diederich and Father John McNeill appear on the Phil Donohue Show.
  • 1976


    In October Dignity/New York, Inc. publishes the first edition of INSIGHT, a quarterly of gay Catholic Opinion. Printed on glossy paper, with 14 pages, the cover price is $1.00.

  • 1976


    From October 21-23, Dignity is officially invited to participate in "Call to Action": U.S. Bishops’ Conference Liberty and Justice for All" in Detroit. The conference is designed to formulate a five-year plan of social action for the nations’ bishops. It is attended by 1400 delegates from every diocese including representatives from over one hundred Catholic organizations. Bishops from 110 dioceses also attend. Brian McNaught is the sole openly gay delegate representing Dignity to the conference although Sister Jeannine Gramick, Father Bob Nugent and several members of Dignity/Detroit are on hand to help Brian lobby the delegates in support of Dignity’s resolutions.
  • 1976


    The November issue of the national newsletter reports the Call to Action conference made the following historical recommendations:

    "... that the Church actively seek to serve the pastoral needs of those persons with a homosexual orientation; to root out those structures and attitudes which discriminate against homosexuals as persons and to join the struggle by homosexual men and women for their basic constitutional rights to employment housing and immigration ...."

    ".... that the Church fight in society and within its own structures discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation’"

    "...that the Church encourage and affirm the pastoral efforts of Dignity, the organization of gay and concerned Catholics to reconcile the Church with its homosexual"

  • 1977


    In January, Dignity sends letters to all Roman Catholic members of the House of Representatives urging them to support the national gay rights bill.
  • 1977


    On May 2-5, the NCCB meets in Chicago and votes to refer the 182 resolutions from the Call to Action conference in Detroit to various NCCB committees for further consideration. Included are resolutions commending Dignity’s ministry and challenging the church "to root out those structures and attitudes, which discriminate against homosexuals as persons." Most resolutions concerning Dignity and homosexuality are referred to the Pastoral Research and Practices Committee, headed by Bishop James Hickey.
  • 1977


    In June, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in Dade County, Florida with the help of Anita Bryant and Archbishop Coleman S. Carroll of Miami. Dignity with others in the gay community counteract Bryant’s "Save Our Children" campaign by launching a counter-offensive called "We ARE Your Children."
  • 1977


    On June 20, the report on sexuality commissioned by the Catholic Theological Society of America is published in a book entitled Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought.
  • 1977


    On June 26, the National Assembly of Religious Brothers passes a resolution that states: "Be it resolved that we support gay men and women in their struggle for human rights and dignity."
  • 1977


    On July 1, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle issues an important statement condemning discrimination against homosexuals and offering his support for civil rights legislation.
  • 1977


    On July 29-30, over 400 delegates attend a National Gay Leadership Conference in Denver co-sponsored by Dignity, M.C.C., the National Gay Task Force and the Gay Rights National Lobby. The goals of the conference are to carefully analyze and learn from the defeat of the gay rights bill in Dade County; assist local people in the field to build effective media, lobbying and religious education programs; to develop resolutions of unified action in support of civil rights. Every gay organization in the country is invited to send two delegates to the conference. Paul Diederich convenes the conference on Friday evening by introducing keynote speakers Ginny Apuzzo (GRNL), Jean O’Leary (NGTF) and the Reverend Troy Perry (MCC).
  • 1977


    In October, the national office is relocated to San Diego.
  • 1977


    With the Fall edition, INSIGHT becomes the publication of Dignity/Brooklyn and the cover price is $2.00. It is printed on heavy stock paper and has 22 pages.
  • 1977


    In 1977, Jeannine Gramick, SSND and Robert Nugent, SDS, co-found New Ways Ministry, a ministry of Reconciliation and Social Justice for Catholic gay and lesbian persons and other sexual minorities, their families and friends and the Catholic community. The ministry is involved in conducting workshops, retreats, talks, counseling, consultation and research.

  • 1978


    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.

  • 1978


    On March 11-12, the first meeting of the new Board of Directors is held in San Diego.
  • 1978


    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.
  • 1978


    On April 25, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • 1978


    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.
  • 1978


    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.

  • 1978


    On May 23, a gay rights ordinance is defeated in Eugene, Oregon.
  • 1978


    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.
  • 1978


    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."
  • 1978


    From June 1-10, Paul Weidig represents Dignity at the Acceptance convention in Sydney, Australia.
  • 1978


    The October issue of the national newsletter includes samples of 24 possible logos for Dignity, which are forwarded to the membership as part of a "Logo Contest."
  • 1978


    From October 22-24, Dignity representatives participate in the Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry’s Annual Conference at Notre Dame. In November, Proposition 6 is defeated in California and a gay rights ordinance passes in Seattle. Both victories are assisted by tireless efforts by Dignity activists
  • 1979


    The January issue of the national newsletter reports that Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Bob Nugent have received a $38,000 grant for a two-year sociological study of the "coming out process and coping strategies of gay women." The study will involve confidential, in-depth interviews with 100 women in the Washington-Baltimore area.
  • 1979


    The 3-year old publication, INSIGHT, distinguishes itself with Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Edward Prucha listed as editors and contributing writers include Brian McNaught, John McNeill, Louie Crew and Robert Nugent. The byline for the publication changes to read "A Quarterly of Lesbian/Gay Christian Opinion."
  • 1979


    The January newsletter also announces that the logo submitted by Jeff Godshall from Dignity/Detroit is chosen as the official logo for Dignity. (This logo was used until 2000 with the only change being the addition of "/USA" to form the "DignityUSA" logo. The typestyle and look remained the same as submitted by Jeff in late 1978.)

  • 1979


    The January newsletter also publishes guidelines for the use of inclusive language in liturgy.
  • 1979


    The March/April national newsletter announces that Deenie Dudley of Atlanta has been elected the first woman Regional Director of Dignity.
  • 1979


    In August, the Dutch hierarchy publishes a discussion document rejecting social discrimination against homosexual people called Homosexual People in Society. New Ways Ministry translates the document and publishes it in English.
  • 1979


    In October, Dignity banners greet Pope John Paul II at every stop in his six-city tour of the United States.
  • 1979


    On October 14, the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights includes a contingent of 350 Dignity members representing 27 chapters.

  • 1979


    On November 13, DignityUSA executive officers meet in Washington DC with members of the Bishops Liaison Committee with Priests, Religious and Laity.
  • 1979


    On December 19, Frank Scheuren, Troy Perry and representatives of the National Gay Task Force and the Gay Rights National Lobby present nationwide petitions for Gay Rights legislation to President Jimmy Carter’s representatives at the White House.
  • 1980


    In February, Dignity opens a permanent national office at 1500 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite #11, Washington, DC.

  • 1980


    On February 4, Frank Scheuren and Jim Highland meet with Cardinal Timothy Manning in Los Angeles to discuss Dignity.
  • 1980


    On February 17, the Association of Priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago honors Dignity/Chicago at a banquet as "Organization of the Year."
  • 1980


    On April 28, President Carter invites representatives from 21 lesbian and gay religious groups to the White House to meet with his religious liaison, Rev. Robert L. Maddox, Jr. Representing Dignity are national officers Frank Scheuren, Elinor Crocker and Joseph Totten as well as Insight Magazine managing editor Gabriel Lanci.
  • 1980


    In the spring, John Boswell’s book: Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality is published by the University of Chicago Press.
  • 1980


    On July 28, Frank Scheuren (accompanied by Region IX Director Chris Patterson and Co-Chairs of Dignity/ San Francisco Jim Ehrhart and Ken Kamman) meets with Archbishop John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco and President of the NCCB, to discuss Dignity and NCCB dialogue.
  • 1980


    On October 25, Joseph Totten resigns as National Treasurer and is replaced by Marvin Marks
  • 1981


    The February edition of the national newsletter has a special insert on "Women in Dignity." It recaps contributions made by women to Dignity at the national, regional and chapter levels. It also includes a variety of personal stories and reflections.
  • 1981


    Dignity membership fee is $20.00. A document is published showing how the fee gets distributed.

  • 1981


    Meeting in March in Lobbock, TX the National Board of Directors unanimously defines Chapters and Chapters-in-Formation as "groupings of no fewer than ten persons in a locale."
  • 1981


    Nine candidates representing three slates for "International" President, Secretary and Treasurer are listed in the June-July edition of the national newsletter.
  • 1981


    On August 1, Dignity announces the publication of Brian McNaught’s book: A Disturbed Peace — Selected Writings of an Irish Catholic Homosexual. A copy of the book is later sent to every bishop in the country, paid for by a generous donation from a Dignity/Chicago chaplain.
  • 1981


    The Fall issue of the national newsletter includes reports from the national officers. President Frank Scheuren notes four major accomplishments in summing up his first term:
    • The establishment of the office in Washington and our 501(3)(c) status.
    • The re-establishment of some type of relationship between the executive officers, office, and the chapters.
    • The very strong foundation and visibility with the NCCB.
    • The establishment of strong ties and the starting of very strong coalitions with all types of groups.
  • 1981


    The Fall 1981 issue of the national newsletter has the first ever mention of the impending AIDS epidemic in an article entitled: "Gay Disease."
  • 1981


    Dignity announces a September publishing date for its revised and updated Theological Pastoral Resources Booklet.
  • 1981


    John Boswell’s Christianity. Social Tolerance and Homosexuality receives top prize at the 1981 American Book Awards for History.
  • 1982


    The February edition of the national newsletters lists nine national standing committees:
    • Women's Concerns
    • Constitution & By-laws
    • Special Areas of Ministry
    • Finance
    • Spiritual Development
    • Social Involvement & Education
    • Communications
    • Prision Ministry
    • Fundraising
  • 1982


    With the March newsletter begins a new column from the Committee for Women's Concerns entitled "Moving the Mountains — Not for Women Only."
  • 1982


    In the April newsletter Region XI announces the sixth annual Dignity/Canada/Dignité conference to be held in Edmonton, Alberta May 21-24.
  • 1982


    In August, U.S. Catholic runs a cover story entitled: "Why Gay Catholics Won’t Be Locked Out of the Church."
  • 1982


    In November, Frank Scheuren serves as co-coordinator of the Constituting Convention in Atlanta for The Religious Council for the Advancement of Lesbians and Gays. The Council is a coalition of gay and lesbian religious organizations across North America.
  • 1983


    In 1983 the following resolution is adopted at a meeting of the National Assembly of Religious Brothers:

    "We the members of the National Assembly of Religious Brothers wish to stand with all groups in their struggles for justice and, ...we believe that those whose sexual orientation is homosexual have been discriminated against by society at large as well as in the Church and, we believe that all men and women, including those of homosexual orientation, have a right to a full life in society as well as in the Church. Be it resolved that we are opposed to any unjust discrimination against those of homosexual orientation in society at large and in the Church, including its ministry, and... we the members of the NARB take an active role, together with our President and Board, in promoting legislation and other projects that favor human rights and justice for all, including those of homosexual orientation."

  • 1983


    In December, John Hager begins publication of a Monthly Memo from the officers to the membership to supplement the national newsletter and to keep members better informed of Dignity’s activities at the national level.
  • 1984


    On January 20, the national officers attend the Fifteenth Anniversary celebration for Dignity/Los Angeles.
  • 1984


    On February 19, a column in Ann Landers encourages a closeted gay man to contact Dignity, Inc saying: "You’ll meet compassionate and understanding people there who will calm your fears and help you find a comfortable niche in society." (Dignity receives over 600 letters in response to being mentioned in the column.)
  • 1984


    On October 4-5, the Board meets in Chicago. Among other things, Ernest Neumann, Direct Region 10, presents a colorful, beautifully framed Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II to Dignity, Inc. The framed certificate graces the walls of our Washington, DC office, even though we were subsequently notified that the blessing had been issued in error and was being officially revoked!
  • 1984


    On October 6, a Constitutional Convention is held at the Bismarck Hotel in Chicago to revise DignityUSA’s Constitution and By-Laws.
  • 1984


    Throughout the year, John Hager interviews individuals interested in serving on Dignity’s Task Force on Sexual Ethics and appoints the following individuals to serve on the Task Force: Nate Gruel, Chair, Kevin Calegari, Mari Castellanos, Jim D., Ed Dempsey, Jim Mallon, Diana Raffle, Ron Schulte, Wayne W., Sue W.
  • 1985


    In May, the first face to face meeting of the Task Force on Sexual Ethics is held.
  • 1986


    In the spring, the Vatican orders Father Charles Curran, a theologian at Catholic University in Washington, DC, to retract his views on birth control and other sexual issues or face the loss of his authorization to teach Roman Catholic doctrine.
  • 1986


    On April 12-13, the Board of Directors meets in Tucson. Among other things, the Board authorizes that copies of A Disturbed Peace (Brian McNaught) and The Church and the Homosexual (John McNeill S.J.) be purchased for re-sale to members.
  • 1986


    On May 16-19, Dignity/Canada/Dignite holds its first national conference in Montreal. All four Dignity officers (Jim Bussen, Elinor Crocker, Jim Pilarski and Tom Cunningham) attend along with John Hager, Immediate Past-President.
  • 1986


    On October 11-12, the Board of Directors meets in Portland, OR. Among other things, the Board agrees to use the name DignityUSA in the future although Dignity, Inc. will remain the legal name of the organization.
  • 1986


    On October 30, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith releases a "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," stating, "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."
  • 1986


    On November 1, Jim Bussen appears on CBS This Morning to respond to the Letter before flying off to Washington DC where DignityUSA and other concerned groups hold a press conference outside of the residence of Apostolic Pro-Nuncio Archbishop Pio Laghi in Washington, DC to protest the Vatican Letter.
  • 1986


    On November 2, John McNeill, S.J. issues a press release stating that he has been informed by his Jesuit Superior that he "must give up all public ministry to gay people or (be) dismissed from the Society of Jesus." Father McNeill announces in the release that "as a Jesuit priest, as a moral theologian, as a psychotherapist, as a person who is himself gay, and as a human being" he cannot obey the order in conscience.

  • 1986


    In December (two weeks before Christmas), the first eviction of a Dignity chapter as a result of the Vatican Letter occurs when Dignity/Syracuse is evicted from Church property.
  • 1987


    More Dignity chapters are informed by their Bishops that they can no longer use Church property. Included are Atlanta, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Nassau, New York, Pensacola, Richmond, Suffolk, Vancouver, BC, Washington DC. The evictions are a direct result of the October, 1986 Vatican Letter which states that groups which do not agree with church teachings cannot meet on church property.
  • 1987


    On February 7-9, the Board of Directors meets in Miami. Highlights include:
    • Board approval of Guidelines Concerning Adverse Actions Against Dignity Chapters to help chapters to respond to possible evictions in light of the Vatican Letter.
    • Board approval of a full-page advertisement in a national publication to respond to Vatican Letter.
  • 1987


    On April 22, Jim Bussen, National President, meets in St. Louis with Archbishop John May, President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bussen asks May to use his influence in a variety of areas including stopping the expulsion of chapters from church property; issuing an AIDS pastoral letter; instituting a program to educate on lesbian/gay violence; revising the current translation of I Corinthians; and using the terms gay/lesbian when referring to us.
  • 1987


    On April 27, DignityUSA places a full-page ad in Newsweek magazine in response to the Vatican Letter and the expulsion of chapters from Church property. It is the first time a national gay/lesbian organization has ever bought a full page, full circulation ad. The ad is paid for by a bequest from the estate of John Willig, a longtime Dignity member from Washington, DC. (Time magazine’s advertising department originally approves publication of the ad but Time’s Editorial Board steps in and refuses to publish it.)
  • 1987


    From September 10-19, Pope John Paul II tours the United States with stops in Miami, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Francisco and Detroit. Peaceful, prayerful, Dignity gatherings greet him at most stops along his journey.
  • 1987


    People Magazine does a story in conjunction with the Papal Visit entitled: "Nine Americans the Pope Won’t Want to Meet ... and Why." Pictured as one of the nine: National President, Jim Bussen!

  • 1987


    On October 11, a large contingent from Dignity participates in the national March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
  • 1988


    In June, Jim Bussen attends the National Association for Lay Ministry Conference at Loyola University in Chicago.
  • 1988


    From June 26-July 1, the first National Catholic AIDS Ministry Conference is held at Notre Dame University.
  • 1988


    In September, Beacon Press in Boston publishes John McNeill’s book: Taking a Chance on God: Liberating Theology for Gays. Lesbians, Their Lovers, Families and Friends
  • 1988


    Dignity/Canada/Dignité holds its Second Biennial Convention in Calgary.
  • 1988


    From November 18-20, National President Jim Bussen attends "Creating Change: A National Conference for Gay and Lesbian Organizations" in Washington, DC.
  • 1989


    From January 13-15, Jim Bussen represents Dignity as an uninvited guest at a meeting of lay Catholic leaders in Belleville, IL. The group eventually becomes the Leadership Council of Catholic Laity (LCCL).
  • 1989


    From July 2 3-28, the Second National Catholic AIDS Conference is held at the University of Notre Dame.
  • 1989


    In December, the final report of the Task Force on Sexual Ethics is forwarded to all members via a special focus issue of the national newsletter.
  • 1990


    In February, DignityUSA’s national office in Washington, DC celebrates its tenth anniversary.
  • 1990


    The April issue of the national newsletter is a special focus issue on "Women in Dignity: Women in the Church."
  • 1990


    On April 3, President Pat Roche sends an Open Letter to the Bishops of the United States in care of Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The letter calls upon the bishops to enter into dialogue with Dignity leaders on issues such as AIDS Ministry, Civil Rights, Anti-Gay Violence, Sexism, Prejudice and Homophobia.
  • 1990


    On April 9, Archbishop Pilarczyk responds that he has "many reservations" about meeting with Dignity leaders due to "fundamental differences between the Bishops of the United States and Dignity." He, nonetheless, says "I am open to the possibility of such a meeting but only after you (Roche) meet with the General Secretary of the NCCB, Robert Lynch."
  • 1990


    In May, Dignity/Canada/Dignité holds its Third Biennial Conference in Ottawa.
  • 1990


    In June, Pat Roche meets in Santa Clara (site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops summer meeting) with Msgr. Robert Lynch to discuss a framework for possible talks with Archbishop Pilarczyk and ongoing dialogue with the NCCB on gay/lesbian issues.
  • 1990


    The July/August issue of the national newsletter is a special focus issue on Dignity’s AIDS Ministry efforts.
  • 1990


    From August 10-12, the national Board meets in Washington, DC. Highlights:

    • A formal response is formulated raising concerns with the NCCB’s second draft of "One in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Response to the Concerns of Women for Church and Society."
    • A new Chapter-in-Formation Manual is finalized and published to give newly forming chapters a practical, step by step, how-to guide.
  • 1990


    In November the United States Catholic Conference releases a 185-page document called Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning. The document includes a section titled: "Persons With a Homosexual Orientation."
  • 1991


    The second quarter edition of the national newsletter includes a multi-page "special section" devoted to "issues of civil rights and violence relating to the glb communities."
  • 1991


    The ssecond quarter edition of the national newsletter carries the following obituary:

    "Robert Fournier, the first president of Dignity, died in late November (1990) although word of his passing only came to us recently. He was the Pension Benefits Administrator for the City of Beverly Hills, CA at the time of his death and in recent years, devoted much time to an avocation of painting.

    Our sympathy is extended to his lover, Anastasio, his father, brother and sister and all Bob's friends as he continues his journey with God. May he be blessed for all the seeds he nurtured in the early formative days of DignityUSA."

  • 1991


    A new national office 800 number is installed "to enhance services to our chapters and membership."
  • 1991


    In November, Dignity co-sponsors the Call to Action Conference in Chicago.
  • 1992


    In February, the Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR), of which DignityUSA is a founding member, holds it's first meeting in Chicago.
  • 1992


    The national Board meets in Washington DC from February 14-17. Barry Goodinson, DignityUSA’s first Executive Director, is introduced to the Board. The Restructuring Task Force meets in DC over the same weekend and formulates a Vision Statement as a baseline on which to build the rationale for changes to our national structure.

  • 1992


    On March 6, the Leadership Team of LCCL (Leadership Council of Catholic Laity) officially invites DignityUSA to become a full organizational member.
  • 1992


    From March 27-29, New Ways Ministry’s third national symposium: "Lesbian and Gay People and Catholicism: The State of the Question" is held in Chicago. Three Bishops, Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit; Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Michigan; and William Hughes of Covington, Kentucky; conduct one of the panels for the some 500 in attendance including 50 Dignity members. The symposium also offers workshops by Past President Pat Roche, past CWC member Mari Castellanos and San Francisco chapter members Jim Schexnayder and Janet Rozanno.
  • 1992


    In June, Dignity releases results of a Gallup Survey, which it co-initiated along with Catholics Speak Out. The survey (released at Notre Dame in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) shows, among other things, that 78% of Catholics are in favor of gay/lesbian civil rights and 46% agree that "sexual relations between gay or lesbian persons in a committed relationship could be morally acceptable."
  • 1992


    On June 25, the General Secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) sends to all U.S. Bishops a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) entitled Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons. The document urges bishops to oppose gay/lesbian civil rights laws in certain instances such as placement of children for adoption or foster care, employment of teachers or athletic coaches, or military recruitment.
  • 1992


    On July 15, New Ways Ministry releases a copy of the CDF document to the media.
  • 1992


    From July 17-20, the Conference of Catholic Lesbians (CCL) holds its tenth anniversary celebration in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • 1992


    From July 17-20, the Conference of Catholic Lesbians (CCL) holds its tenth anniversary celebration in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • 1992


    On July 25, DignityUSA President, Kevin Calegari travels to Rome for a private meeting with Msgr. Michael Swalina, American assistant to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. During this meeting, he presents Msgr. Swalina with a five-page letter addressed to Cardinal Ratzinger detailing DignityUSA’s objections to the CDF document.
  • 1992


    On July 29, Kevin Calegari holds a press conference at St. Peter's in Rome during which he places the CDF document in an envelope marked "Return to Sender" and pins it to the door of the Palazzo del Sant' Uffizio, headquarters of the CDF.

  • 1992


    On August 3, DignityUSA holds a press conference at the NCCB offices in Washington, DC, and pins the CDF document to the NCCB door in an envelope marked "Return to Sender." DignityUSA also calls upon the bishops to repudiate the CDF document when they meet in Washington DC from November 16-19 and to issue a statement unequivocally supporting basic human rights for all Americans including gays and lesbians.
  • 1992


    On August 18, DignityUSA launches a "Call to Justice" campaign to launch protests around the country to the CDF document. One aspect of the campaign is to support a New Ways Ministry project to gather signatures to be presented to the bishops at their November meeting in DC.
  • 1992


    On September 21, DignityUSA sends each chapter a Call to Justice Chapter Action Kit to offer assistance and guidance in planning local activities throughout the month of October in dioceses around the country in advance of the NCCB meeting in November.
  • 1992


    In late September, Dignity Officers Kevin Calegari and Marianne Duddy meet with Msgr. Robert Lynch, General Secretary of the NCCB, to share concerns about the CDF document and to request that the bishops respond to the document at their November meeting in DC.
  • 1992


    On November 16, in conjunction with New Ways Ministry, the Call to Justice campaign stages a press conference and public prayer service at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, site of the NCCB meeting.
  • 1992


    At their November meeting, the bishops also reject the latest draft of the Women’s Pastoral.
  • 1993


    On April 15, a majority of delegates approve, by mail ballot:
    • Changing the number of Regions (from 10 to 7) as proposed by the Restructuring Task Force.
    • Dividing national and regional responsibilities between Regional Directors (National) and Regional Coordinators (Regional)
    • Developing a Leadership Conference
    • Changing the way our National Secretary and Treasurer are selected (from election by delegates to appointment by President and confirmation by Board)
    • And other efforts to improve our national By-Laws.
  • 1993


    On April 25, DignityUSA (one of the early supporters of the 1993 March on Washington) has one of the largest organizational contingents in the march. Almost a thousand members from around the country meet for a prayer vigil outside St. Matthew’s Cathedral before being led to the March site by the national officers.

  • 1993


    On June 25, Kevin Calegari and other members of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) meet at the White House with members of the Clinton administration to discuss issues of domestic and foreign policy.
  • 1993


    From August 8-15, Dignity’s presence is felt at the Pope’s World Youth Day in Denver.
  • 1993


    In a statement coinciding with the release of Pope John Paul II's encyclical Veritas Splendor (October 5), President Marianne Duddy says that the papal document "indicates that the Vatican is totally out of touch with the possibilities for the church in the modern world.…"
  • 1993


    In December, Father John McNeill’s new book: Freedom Glorious Freedom — The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays and Lesbians and Everybody Else is published.
  • 1994


    From June 18-25, in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of Stonewall in New York City, Dignity participates in a variety of events that include:

    • International Catholic Gay/Lesbian Conference attended by over 400.
    • A peaceful & prayerful vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
    • A liturgy for over 1200 hosted by Dignity/New York.
    • The Stonewall 25 International March on the United Nations.
  • 1994


    On November 4-6, Call to Action’s annual meeting is held in Chicago. DignityUSA receives the 1994 Call to Action Award for its efforts to promote understanding within the Catholic community and its promotion of a vision of church in which all persons participate as full and active members.

  • 1994


    November 18: Past President Jim Bussen is honored by Chicago's Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian issues by being inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
  • 1994


    On December 24 Dr. John E. Boswell, author, educator and member of Dignity, dies of complications from AIDS. John wrote such ground-breaking books as Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (1993) and Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (1980). John was a convert to Catholicism as an adult.
  • 1995


    At their winter meeting in January the national Board of Directors establishes the Kevin Calegari Leadership Award to recognize individuals for their "outstanding contributions and many years of dedicated service to the Dignity family."
  • 1995


    On February 12, Dignity loses a great leader and beloved friend with the death of Kevin Calegari. His death came just one month shy of his 37th birthday. Kevin served as president of DignityUSA from 1991-1993.
  • 1995


    In February the third book in the trilogy on gay theology by John McNeill is published. It is titled Freedom, Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians, and Everybody Else.
  • 1995


    The Spring edition of the DignityUSA Journal "is dedicated in the loving memory of Kevin Calegari."
  • 1995


    Solidarity Sunday, a faith-based anti-violence initiative, is inaugurated for the first time on October 8, 1995 by DignityUSA.

  • 1996


    Approximately 80 Dignity members attend the 20th Anniversary Conference of Call to Action, in Detroit MI, Nov 15-17.
  • 1996


    Stage 1 of the Basil Ryan Report is reprinted in the Fall 1996 edition of the Dignity Journal.
  • 1996


    DignityUSA establishes a website: dignityusa.org under the direction of M.A. Ladd.
  • 1996


    In an effort to increase awareness, support and membership, DignityUSA places a half page ad in the Dec 24th year-end edition of the Advocate national magazine.
  • 1997


    National Registry for Holy Unions is established by DignityUSA in July.
  • 1997


    Stage II of the Basil Ryan Report is reprinted in the Winter-Spring edition of the Dignity Journal.
  • 1997


    DignityUSA founder Dr. Pax Nidorf, Ph.D. makes a rare appearance and is guest of honor at Dignity/San Diego's 25th Anniversary Banquet with over 180 in attendance.

  • 1997


    The document Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to the Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers is released by the US National Catholic Conference of Bishops on October 1.
  • 1997


    Charles Cox begins work as DignityUSA's first Executive Director, a paid position, on October 1.
  • 1997


    Bob Miailovich, President, represents DignityUSA in Rome October 10-12 as part of an international movement calling for reform and courage in the Catholic Church.
  • 1997


    DignityUSA holds a press conference November 10 outside the hotel where the NCCB is meeting to call attention to the importance of the October document.

  • 1998


    Dignity urges ABC to support an AIDS episode of the TV program "Nothing Sacred."
  • 1998


    In the Public Eye: Dignity responds to Catholic University's action on Candace Gingrich speech.
  • 1998


    On Sunday, May 24th, New York's Cardinal O'Connor uses his weekly homily to call proposed domestic partners legislation before the New York City Council a threat to the family and marriage. DignityUSA responds to his comments with a public letter to the editors of the New York Post, Newsday and LGNY from National President Bob Miailovich and Executive Director Charles Cox. The NY Blade had the letter under consideration.
  • 1998


    DignityUSA has expressed its concern over the recent steps taken by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and its Committee on Marriage and Family Life to dilute the message and spirit of Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers
  • 1998


    In a July 15, 1998 press statement, DignityUSA finds the advertising campaign supporting ex-gay ministries to be misleading and destructive, and not representative of Catholic teaching.

  • 1998


    More than 30 national religious leaders from many faith traditions, including DignityUSA, gather in Washington, DC July 23rd and 24th to express their support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in the wake of the July advertisements paid for by the Christian right.
  • 1998


    DignityUSA initiates a Couples Registry.
  • 1998


    The DignityUSA Church Relations Task Force mails a survey on Always Our Children to each chapter.
  • 1998


    Executive Director Charles Cox represents DignityUSA at the mid-September meeting of the National Policy Round Table in Washington, DC. The Round Table, sponsored by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, brings together leaders of over 30 national, policy oriented gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations. This was the Round Table's third such gathering, but the first one to include religious organizations — Dignity and two others.
  • 1998


    Upon the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election as head of the Roman Catholic Church, DignityUSA joins 140 groups worldwide in a statement A Pope for the Time to Come. The statement challenges the Church by calling for a model of church built on a discipleship of equals and a style of universal leadership that is collaborative, dialogic and open to fundamental change.

  • 1999


    In an historic move, President Clinton proclaims June "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month"
  • 1999


    DignityUSA issues a press release July 13 in response to the Vatican's action of silencing Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Bob Nugent of New Ways Ministry.

  • 1999


    Re-Imagining Dignity process begins.
  • 1999


    DignityUSA applauds the Supreme Court of Vermont for its recognition that gay and lesbian couples should be accorded the same rights and benefits as traditionally married couples.
  • 2000


    Effective January 1, 2000, Chuck Provancher takes over the management and design of the DignityUSA Website.

  • 2000


    DignityUSA announces that past national president, Marianne Duddy, has been appointed executive director.
  • 2000


    DignityUSA launches a three-month advertising campaign in the Advocate national magazine.

  • 2000


    DignityUSA participates in the Millennium March on Washington.

  • 2000


    DignityUSA announces the addition of two new staff persons in our national office: R Ressa as database manager and Ron Karstetter as office mana
  • 2000


    In our continuing efforts to provide the membership maximum access to Dignity news and information, DignityUSA launches a new Dignity News Service.

  • 2000


    In November, DignityUSA and Soulforce hold a peaceful demonstration in Washington, DC to oppose spiritual gay bashing.
  • 2001


    On January 1, President Mary Louise Cervone and Executive Director Marianne Duddy go to Rome to represent DignityUSA in collaboration with Soulforce to bring attention to the Catholic hierarchy's demeaning attitude toward GLBT Catholics.

  • 2001


    DignityUSA is the subject of a study which appears in the most recent edition of the Social Psychology Quarterly, 2001 Volume 64 No. 4. Dr. James C. Cavendish and Dr. Donileen R. Loseke, assistant professor and professor of sociology at the University of South Florida, co-authored the study entitled "Producing Institutional Selves: Rhetorically Constructing the Dignity of Sexually Marginalized Catholics." Drs. Cavendish and Loseke explore how apparently contradictory identities can be reconciled rhetorically. The source materials for the study are DignityUSA Journals published between 1997 and 2000.
  • 2001


    The Council of Religious AIDS Networks, including DignityUSA, meets in February in Florida and calls upon the people and the US government to continue a comprehensive and inclusive response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
  • 2001


    During the March Board of Directors Meeting in Chicago, a special reception is held to honor Jim Green and Bill Diederich "In Appreciation of Faithful and Generous Support." In addition to dedicating themselves over the years to the mission of Dignity, they gave to DignityUSA the largest single donation to date, $52,000. To thank them for their dedication and commitment as well as their generous financial support, Mary Louise Cervone presents Jim & Bill with a beautiful etched glass plaque declaring them "Perpetual Members of DignityUSA."
  • 2001


    On April 2-4, DignityUSA co-sponsors a conference on "The Progressive, Faith-Based Agenda: A Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr." in Washington, DC.
  • 2001


    DignityUSA is awarded $1,000 from the School Sisters of Notre Dame Fund for Gay and Lesbian Ministry. The funding is to support proactive outreach to facilitate participation in Solidarity Sunday™.
  • 2001


    The Gill Foundation, the preeminent GLBT philanthropic organization, announces a grant of $7,500 to DignityUSA for mobilizing pro-GLBT Catholic support in a state civil rights initiative, where Catholic input can make a difference in the outcome of the bill.
  • 2001


    At the request of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, DignityUSA signs onto an amicus brief to be presented to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office in an effort to prevent an anti-gay constitutional amendment from coming before the state's voters. The amendment, sponsored by the Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, seeks to add language to the state constitution limiting marriage to one man/one woman, and denying the benefits of marriage to any other relationship.
  • 2001


    Following the attacks of September 11, DignityUSA issues a statement extending sympathy to all of those who have lost people they love, including the loved ones of Fr. Mychal Judge, NY Fire Department Chaplain, who was a longtime member of Dignity. DignityUSA also expresses outrage by the comments of Rev. Jerry Falwell and Rev. Pat Robertson, who blamed gay men and lesbians for helping to cause this terrorism.

  • 2001


    DignityUSA's Fr. Tom is named co-chair of the National Council of Religious AIDS Network.
  • 2001


    The December 25, 2001, issue of the Advocate (p. 16) quotes Executive Director Marianne Duddy on Pope John Paul II, Fr. Mychal Judge, gay priests and the gifts of our heroes.
  • 2002


    On January 13, the board of directors meets by teleconference. Topics of discussion included our upcoming first national election, as well as reports from other board committees. Director Linda Rieder reports that a Parents and Friends Advisory Board is in the planning stages to encourage greater participation of potential non-gay supporters.
  • 2002


    On February 8, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, hosts a public panel discussion of John McNeill's life and ministry in celebration of the John J. McNeill Gay and Lesbian Liberation Archives, which have recently been donated to CLGS. Sr. Jeannine Gramick is one of the participants in that panel discussion. The Center hosts at the dean’s house (on Thursday, February 7) a smaller "by-invitation" fund-raising cocktail party with John to help raise money for cataloguing and publicizing the archive. Tom Kaun, former DignityUSA director, attends the Thursday reception in behalf of DignityUSA. Also in attendance are Rev. Jim Schexnayder, founder and resource director of NACDLGM, as well as several others who have had a connection with Dignity over the years. Several linear feet of John’s papers are donated, including his correspondence with the Vatican. His papers will be made available to the public in approximately six months online.
  • 2002


    Leaders of DignityUSA condemn statements by Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls in which he blames clergy sexual abuse on gay priests. Navarro-Valls is quoted in the March 3, 2002 New York Times as saying that "People with these inclinations just cannot be ordained," and likening their ordination to a marriage that could be annulled.
  • 2002


    DignityUSA Endorses New Ways Ministry Symposium, March 8-10, and has a strong presence at the symposium. Approximately 65 members of DignityUSA are among the 500 who gathered in Louisville, KY March 8-10, 2002 for New Ways Ministry's Fifth National Symposium on Gay and Lesbian Issues in the Church. Entitled "Out of Silence God Has Called Us: Lesbian/Gay Issues in the Vatican II Church," the Symposium commemorated the 25th anniversary of New Ways Ministry's founding in 1977.
  • 2002


    The board of directors of DignityUSA announces the chartering of Dignity/Silver Spring, located in Maryland.
  • 2002


    DignityUSA addresses the priest sex abuse scandal. On April 8, the Board of Directors of DignityUSA devotes much of its meeting to issues raised by the clergy sex abuse scandal unfolding in the Catholic Church.
  • 2002


    We Shall Not Be Silent: Conferences for GLBT Catholics, Our Families, Friends and Supporters, sponsored by DignityUSA, takes place on April 12-14 at the Crockett Hotel, San Antonio, TX, where the keynote speaker is Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL; and May 24-26, at the Hyatt Hotel, Buffalo, NY, where the keynote speaker is Edwina Gately
  • 2002


    DignityUSA Joins Gay Days at Disney World in Orlando, FL, May 28–June 2.
  • 2002


    Patrick T. McArron is named president of DignityUSA.
  • 2002


    In response to the church sex abuse crisis, DignityUSA launches a campaign entitled "STOP BLAMING GAY PRIESTS" at the November US Catholic Bishops Conference.
  • 2003


    In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court takes a stand for GLBT people in a 6-3 decision. DignityUSA filed an amicus brief in support of overturning its controversial 1986 Hardwick decision.
  • 2003


    DignityUSA denounces "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," a Vatican document instructing Catholic politicians and the public on opposing legal protections for same-sex couples.
  • 2003


    On July 31, DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy appears on a PBS panel to discuss the same-gender marriange issue.
  • 2003


    On August 15, National Catholic Reporter interviews DignityUSA leaders in an article on the same-gender marriage debate.
  • 2003


    DignityUSA hires Matthew Gallagher as new executive director.
  • 2003


    Philippe LaChance, elected by your national Board of Directors as treasurer beginning October 1, resigns his position on the board as of December 1.
  • 2003


    On November 18, leaders of DignityUSA express their joy about a historic decision in Massachusetts' highest court ruling that same-sex couples are legally entitled to marry under the state constitution.
  • 2003


    Joseph Giordano is appointed new treasurer effective Decem
  • 2004


    On January 10, the DignityUSA Board of Directors holds a conference call to review the first quarter list of priorities from the DignityUSA strategic plan.
  • 2004


    After more than 25 years in a one room efficiency apartment, the National Board approves moving the national office into a larger suite in the same building.
  • 2004


    DignityUSA participates at National Religious Leadership Roundtable Event in Boston on March 9–10.
  • 2004


    DignityUSA launches secure online payment options for memberships and donations as of March 24.
  • 2004


    The Board of Directors of DignityUSA gathers in Washington, DC, April 16-18 for their quarterly meeting.
  • 2004


    Dignity/Sarasota (FL), is granted full charter chapter status by the DignityUSA Board of Directors.
  • 2004


    Joseph Giordano resigns from the DignityUSA Board of Directors and as Treasurer, as of the end of May. A volunteer is sought to take his place.
  • 2004


    DignityUSA Marketing Committee launches national ad campaign in June. The committee, headed by Tom Streeper, Lewis Tanner, Marty Grochala, Chuck Provancher and Matthew Gallagher, launches the campaign to create awareness and "Amplify the Voice of DignityUSA" across the country. The campaign is aimed at combating the violence GLBT people feel from the Vatican, supporting the marriage debate taking place across the country, and providing a picture of what a loving GLBT Catholic family looks like. The "DignityUSA Calls It Love" campaign, celebrating GLBT families, includes national advertising in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and The Advocate, local and regional ads, as well as Dignity chapter-sponsored advertising and Gay Pride event booths and displays.

  • 2004


    DignityUSA conducts the first of three membership meetings entitled “We Must Speak Our Truth” in Washington, DC, June 5–6, 2004, hosted by Dignity/Washington and Dignity/Northern Virginia. Guest speaker is Chrissy Gephardt, daughter of Congressman Richard Gephardt, of Missouri. She shares her coming-out story and talks about how we should speak our truth about who we are, which is the theme for the weekend. After her presentation, she takes questions from those present, then joins the group for lunch.
  • 2004


    The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) requests DignityUSA to participate in an important national consultation on men who have sex with men (MSM), to address the rising increase in numerous health issues, especially the elevated level of the spread of Syphilis and new HIV/AIDS cases among MSMs. The CDC invites DignityUSA to the gathering in Atlanta, GA on July 1 because it recognizes DignityUSA's expertise to speak for members of the GLBT community from a faith perspective, and the ability to reach a number of gay men throughout its membership. Fr. Tom, chairman, DignityUSA's National AIDS Project, represents DignityUSA.
  • 2004


    Four directors are elected to serve on DignityUSA's national Board of Directors for a two-year term beginning October 1: Rosemary Burdick (CN), Leo Tibesar (MN) and Dick Young (OH). Lewis Tanner (NY) re-elected.
  • 2004


    In lieu of a scheduled teleconference, the Board of Directors of DignityUSA gathers for their quarterly meeting in Washington, DC, July 16–18
  • 2004


    The second of three membership meetings is held Dayton, OH, July 31–August 1, hosted by Dignity/Dayton and Dignity/Columbus. Keynote speaker is Rev. Phil Hart, Executive Director of Sanctorum, and the first United Methodist Minister defrocked for coming out, on "Prophecy: the Call, the Cost, the Change."
  • 2004


    Peter Caprise volunteers to serve on DignityUSA Board of Directors as Treasurer. Peter is the Chief Financial Officer of a large non-profit organization. He brings a wealth of talent and experience to his new role on our national board.
  • 2004


    Ron Karstetter, DignityUSA's national office manager for the past five years, steps down. Karen Banks becomes the new office manager. Karen has a background of experience working with small, non-profit, community based organizations.
  • 2004


    Third of three membership meetings is held in Los Angeles, CA, October 16–17, hosted by Dignity/Los Angeles.
  • 2004


    DignityUSA launches new project, "Breath of the Spirit: Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments," electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for members and potential members.
  • 2004


    DignityUSA invites chapters to Washington DC for acts of prayer and visibility at the next U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meetings, November 15-18.