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Merton Center giving justice awards

Friday, May 04, 2001

The Thomas Merton Center will present more than a dozen awards next week to people involved in what the long-time peace and social justice organization calls "the struggle for human and civil rights for sexual minorities."

The awards, called Stars of Justice, honor efforts in areas ranging from adoption rights to same-sex health benefits to anti-discrimination.

"People who never tell a racial joke may find gay-bashing to be funny," said Molly Rush, staff organizer of the center and one of its founders in 1972. "Humor often is used to deal with a sense of discomfort. I know of the pain that lesbian co-workers and friends endure.

"I have also been blessed by the sensitivity, spirituality and creativity that so often emerges from the experience of oppression."

The center is named for Thomas Merton, a writer, poet and Trappist monk who was a proponent of nonviolence and an early influential critic of the Vietnam War.

The Stars of Justice awardees will include:

Lawyers Christine Biancheria and Kathryn Hens-Greco for adoption rights; the Rev. Lynn Chester Edwards, an Episcopal priest, who works with the Shepherd Wellness Community; Clarke Thomas and Lynn Cullen for media; Pittsburgh city Councilmen Jim Ferlo and Dan Cohen for their work in passing the city's anti-discrimination ordinance; Drs. Janice Anderson, Katherine Patterson and Kathy Homrok for family, maternity and health care; Randy Forrester and Dr. James Huggins, founders of Persad, an East End mental health center for sexual minorities; Lily Wasik, organizer of a Day of Silence at Fox Chapel High School; and the Carnegie Mellon University board of trustees for agreeing to same-sex benefits at the school.

The awards will be given at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Bell Harbor Marina, 1 River Road, Blawnox. Refreshments are available. Tickets are $25; $15 for low-income attendees.

For more information, call 412-361-3022 or e-mail

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