We lost PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford in January, but her legacy is being recognized by President Obama, who is honoringher with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.
Jeanne and her husband, Jules, co-founded PFLAG in the early 1970s after they witnessed the discrimination faced by their son, Morty, who had been severely beaten at a gay activist march.
After the assault, Jeanne wrote a impassioned letter to the New York Post, proudly stating “I have a homosexual son and I love him.”
At a time when most families were rejecting their LGBT children, she was working tirelessly to increase awareness and acceptance for gays and lesbians, and became a surrogate mother to thousands. Manford continued to march and organize, even after losing Morty to AIDS in 1992.
She’ll be honored at a White House ceremony on February 15, along with other recipients—including former senator Harris Wofford, children’s health advocate Dr. T Berry Brazelton, Iraq war veteran Adam Burke and Native American activist Billy Mills. Speaking of the honorees, President Obama remarked that,”their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize Americans who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their fellow citizens. This year’s honorees were chosen from among more than 6,000 nominees.