President Obama honors PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford at The White House

'Her legacy carries on, every day, in the countless lives that she touched'

President Obama honors PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford at The White House
16 February 2013

The daughter of the founder the straight ally group Parents and Friends of Gay and Lesbians accepted the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal on behalf of her late mother from President Barack Obama on Friday (15 February).

Jeanne Manford, who founded PFLAG in 1972, died last month at the age of 92. So her daughter, Suzanne Swan, traveled to The White House and stood in her place as Obama handed the nation’s second-highest civilian honor to Manford and 12 other honorees.

Said Obama at the ceremony: ‘When Jeanne Manford learned that her son Morty had been badly beaten up at a gay rights demonstration, nobody would have faulted her for bringing him home, holding him close, just focusing on her child. This was back in 1972. There was a lot of hate, a lot of vitriol towards gays and lesbians and anyone who supported them. But instead, she wrote to the local newspaper and took to the streets with a simple message: No matter who her son was — no matter who he loved –- she loved him, and wouldn’t put up with this kind of nonsense.’

Obama explained the impact Manford’s action had.

‘In that simple act, she inspired a movement and gave rise to a national organization that has given so much support to parents and families and friends, and helped to change this country,’ he said. ‘We lost Jeanne last month, but her legacy carries on, every day, in the countless lives that she touched.’

After her letter to The Post began to get attention, Manford began giving interviews to radio and television shows in several cities. In June of 1972, she participated with her son in the New York Pride March, carrying a hand-lettered sign that read ‘Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.’

The reaction to them was so strong that she decided to form Parents of Gay (POG) which became PFLAG in 1993. The group is meant to be ‘a bridge between the gay community and the heterosexual community.’

Morty Manford died from AIDS complications in 1992 but his mother continued her activism throughout the rest of her life.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Delhi gay pride breaking taboos in India

Hundreds join colorful Delhi Queer Pride parade, sending a powerful message to country's conservative majority
No thumbnail available

Glee star Darren Criss meets 8-year-old boy who has big crush on him

Writes the boy's mom: 'My son met his first love. It was adorable'
No thumbnail available

Police refuse permission for pride in Hyderabad, India

Organizers of pride in southern Indian city of Hyderabad say they have ‘fundamental right’ to parade for legal gay sex, safer schools and end to forced marriage
No thumbnail available

UKIP 'not against gay adoption' but still opposes gay marriage

UK Independence Party London chairman David Coburn distances group from gay adoption 'child abuse' claims
No thumbnail available

On eve of Valentine's Day, Virginia's gay marriage ban overturned by federal judge

The ruling, which would make Virginia 18th state in the US to have gay marriage, has been stayed pending appeal
No thumbnail available

Girl, 7, writes poem for her dead trans teacher

'Wonderful teacher' Lucy Meadows was found dead in Lancashire, England after a tabloid revealed her ‘shock’ story
No thumbnail available

Gay skier slams Olympic committee for not supporting LGBTI athletes

‘The Olympic Committee had a huge responsibility in Sochi and they didn't stand up for human rights,’ says Anja Paerson
No thumbnail available

Flirty fish may solve riddle of gay animals

Scientists find female fish are more attracted to males displaying homosexual behavior
No thumbnail available

Sydney Morning Herald calls on PM Abbott to allow free marriage vote

The editors of the Sydney Morning Herald have called on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to allow his MPs to vote with their consciences on same-sex marriage following a senior Government minister saying he believes his party room should revisit the issue
No thumbnail available

Gay country singer Steve Grand reflects on his song All-American Boy going viral

'For the first time in my life, truly, I feel like I don't have to be ashamed of myself anymore'