DC 2002 – Alert #2


Dear D.C. Volunteers:

We’re only a month away from our direct action in Washington, D.C. and our leadership team is hard at work finalizing the plans. Given that recent new reports suggest that the Vatican is about to ban gay priests, we’ve decided to return to our theme from our trip to the Vatican – GOD’S GAY CHILDREN BRING GIFTS, BLESS THEM.

In keeping with that theme each day we will bring gifts to the Hyatt Hotel, where the bishops are meeting and ask the bishops to join us in blessing them.

On Monday, Nov. 11th (Veteran’s Day), we will bring gifts for veterans (either disabled or homeless) and we are coordinating this with several different groups in the D.C. area. We do this to answer the call of caring for our brothers and sisters in need and to remind people that the Vatican has suggested that we, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people should not be allowed to serve in the military.

Tuesday, November 12th, we will bring gifts to those people who are living with AIDS. We call to mind that the Vatican has fought against the U.N.’s attempt to provide condoms to prevent AIDS in those countries that are being devastated by the disease.

Wednesday, November 13th, we will bring gifts to women and children who have been victims of violence, abuse and abandonment. We recall our visit to the battered women’s shelter in Rome where they told us that they saw our struggle and theirs as one, because the Catholic Church consistently tried to tell them to return home to their husbands and not seek safety and divorce.

Each day we will have a ritual at noon to bless these gifts and then will deliver them to the various agencies. Some suggestions about gifts to bring comes from Jane Ralph who works in D.C. with a women’s group and writes:

"Coffee for one is a huge expense and would be a fairly simple gift idea. Bras & underwear come to mind too – not glamorous but needed. With colder weather coming outer wear of all types – tending toward large sizes are also needed. And any basic household paper products.

We also do a holiday drive called ‘gifts for moms’ – basically collecting gifts for the women with children so they can ‘shop’ for toys and clothes to give to their kids. About 65% of our clients are African American and so we also try to take an afro-centric approach to the gifts – books by African and African American authors, black dolls, items related to Kwanzaa principles, clothes made from kente cloth etc."

For people living with AIDS and homeless and disabled veterans, warm clothing is always a good bet. The D.C. winters can be brutal, at times and people can always use warm thermal socks, blankets, thermocups to keep their coffee warm. Use your imagination, what would you like?

PLEASE TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS ABOUT OUR GIFTS-GIVING PLAN AND INVITE THEM TO PARTICIPATE. If unable to carry the gifts to D.C. yourself, we suggest two alternatives:

  • You may send the gifts to Jane Ralph at 1333 "N" Street N.W, Washington, DC 20005.
  • UPS them to yourself c/o The Holiday Inn (if staying there).
    Clearly label the carton: "Hold For Arriving Guest (your name) on (your arrival date) and get tracking # just in case.

If you select either of the above, be sure to allow ample time for shipping and delivery.

We’re also excited about a campus campaign that Jake Reitan, our young adult coordinator is orchestrating. Jake has created a wonderful 17 min. promotional, called, "The Power of Youth." He has already sent out approximately 30 copies to colleges in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. If you know someone in that area and you think they could use this to help organize support, please let us know.

To date, we have approximately 40 people pre-registered for D.C., which is slightly larger than last year. With the momentum and attention of Lynchburg, we expect that number will increase as we approach the final weeks. Regardless, we know the witness will once again be spirit-filled and transformational in D.C. and look forward to being and "doing justice" with you there.

Richard, Philippe and Kara – Catholic Co-chairs

PS An important reminder: if you haven’t already written your assigned bishop, please do so today, and remember to send us copies.