In Memory: Jim Ehrhart

Dear Dignity members,

I was saddened to learn today that a past co-chair and one of our early Dignity San Francisco leaders, Jim Ehrhart, passed away on January 3, 2020. On July 28, 1980, when Jim was Co-Chair of our chapter, he and his fellow Co-Chair Ken Kamman, along with Frank Scheuren (Dignity USA President) and Chris Patterson (Director of Dignity USA Region IX) met with Archbishop John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco and then President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), now known as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to encourage dialogue between Dignity and NCCB, in order to build a stronger foundation and increase the visibility of Dignity within the NCCB.

In 1981, Jim was one of 14 members of the San Francisco Archdiocesan Task Force on Homosexuality and Social Justice, chaired by local activist, theologian and clinician with a private practice in human sexuality, Kevin Gordon. On July 29, 1982, the Task Force approved its 150-page report, a ground-breaking working document described in the Bay Area Reporter as “flying out of the closet of the San Francisco Archdiocese with a stinging, driving force.” The Task Force report addressed the issues of violence, homosexuality in the Latino community, language, family, gay life, gay religious and priests, the sexually disenfranchised, and education, and made 54 recommendations for reform. The report concluded that gay and lesbian Catholics “were committed, fully active Roman Catholics” whose lives “reflect an admirable moral integrity,” who consider their sexuality good

In June of 1983, Jim brought together LGBT people of faith for an ecumenical and interfaith “Festival of Prayer” held in San Francisco’s Saint Mary’s Cathedral, which included singing of hymns and popular songs, the ringing of the Cathedral bells, with different groups hosting each hour of the night. In subsequent years, the event, held at the beginning of LGBT Pride week, took place in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral.

We bid you a fond farewell, Jim, and know that you are now at peace in the light of God’s face, along with so many of our past Dignity friends and loved ones.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Riofski