PHELPS COMES TO PITTSBURGH WITH MESSAGE OF TOLERANCE AND DIVERSITY AT INAUGURAL ADVOCACY RALLY

May 25, 2010—Pittsburgh, PA—Nate Phelps, the estranged son of the controversial Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, will join activist Cleve Jones and Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes to promote equality at the first ever Advocacy Rally in Pittsburgh.  The Rally will be held on Friday, June 4 at 6 pm on the steps of the City-County Building and will serve as the kick-off for the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh’s popular and growing 10-day celebration of Pittsburgh Pride festivities.  This year’s theme is “You Belong.”

Over the past 19 years, Fred Phelps and his campaign have picketed the funerals of numerous American soldiers, victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, student Matthew Shepard who was murdered because he was gay, and the slaughter of the five young Amish children in Lancaster County, among others.  Locally, Phelps protested the funerals of television personality Fred Rogers and Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll.

Phelps has declared the entire country – indeed, the entire world – doomed for embracing the notion of equality for gays. Nate Phelps calls his father’s protests both hateful and destructive  He looks forward to coming to Pittsburgh because he’s said he has an “obligation to inform the world about who his father really is and offer hope and some small amount of healing for the thousands of people who have suffered similarly from religious extremism”. The Pittsburgh Advocacy Rally will be the first time he has ever spoken at a Gay Pride event.

Joining Phelps, is LGBT activist Cleve Jones. His career began in San Francisco during the turbulent 1970’s when he was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk, who was assassinated along with San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone in 1978.

In 1983, when AIDS was still a new and poorly understood threat, Jones co-founded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He conceived the idea of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985. At 54 tons, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has grown to become the world’s largest community arts project, memorializing the lives of over 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS. Currently, Jones has been working with UNITE HERE, the hotel, restaurant, and garment workers union on homophobia issues. He is a driving force behind the Sleep With The Right People campaign, which aims to convince LGBT tourists to stay only in hotels that respect the rights of their workers.

As the Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes has been at the forefront of ministry to the Lesbian & Gay Community in Toronto for more than 30 years. In 2001, Hawkes gained international attention by performing a legal wedding ceremony for two same-sex couples by circumventing a governmental loophole. Over the years he has constantly challenged the church to examine important issues including prejudice against lesbians and gays, inclusive language, and the ordination of women. He has played a significant role in promoting the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, and is a past co-chair for the Campaign for Equal Families.

Rev. Hawkes has continually championed for equal rights for lesbians, gays and women and has continually challenged the status quo with regards to racism, poverty and housing.

About The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh:

Originally incorporated on July 17, 1996 as a spin-off of the Lambda Foundation, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh is dedicated to improving the quality of life for and visibility of the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Pittsburgh region.  The organization’s major initiatives are Pittsburgh Pride Week, which takes place June 4-13, 2010, (Pittsburgh) RED, which will take place on Wednesday, December 1, and The Western PA Advocacy Initiative, in cooperation with the Western PA Advocacy Alliance.  For details, visit pittsburghpride.org.

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