For over two years, Danielle was certain that the Mayan’s were right and the world was going to end on 12.21.12. Now that it’s the 22nd, she breaths a sigh of relief and so do I – because I don’t have to present logical analysis against the illogical fear or a teenager.
We started out 2012 with a huge bang down in Pasadena for the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl (Oregon Ducks v Wisconsin). Lisa’s portrait was placed on the float as an organ donor and I received the honor of riding on the “Donate Life Float” – with last year’s theme: “For one More Day”. Very fitting.
Our springtime brought knew people into our lives – Fash and Susan the Director/Producer and Actress of the short film (31min) loosely based on our story. It’s beautiful and wonderfully done. Hopefully 2013 will see the feature film.
As David worked and worked at improving his golf game – he made it to Leagues and did outstanding. He earned his Varsity Letter – and he never takes his Letterman coat off. Then before we knew it – Danielle was graduating – with honors and with passing all the State required tests.
And in just five minutes, 15 years of worry, loss of sleep and nearly bribery was all washed away in those 5 minutes with Danielle receiving her honor cords, and her fresh Hawaiian Lei from above protecting her. I had a lot of help in getting Dani to this momentous occasion and if I start to name some of you and leave others out – I’ll never hear the end of it – so you know who you really are.
I had great plan for the summer – take the kids to all the places we used to visit – the zoo, NW trek and on and on. I hoped it would help all of us. However, Danielle got her first job, David was referring soccer matches 2-4 a day on Saturday and Sunday while Katie played soccer and completed her Lifeguarding course. So the summer slipped by me and I didn’t achieve nearly what I hoped.
Shortly after Katie’s swim season started, David began volunteering with YMCA K-1 outdoor soccer team as the assistant Coach. And then of course there was driving to Spokane/Cheney to send Danielle off to college.
And here is Danielle with her Freshman class – she reports she is somewhere in the “W” of EWU.
Swimming ended with Katie adding more patches to her letterman jacket. David referred 24 Youth Soccer Games as well as coaching the little ones from the YMCA.
We hope our end of year letter find you well in health and in life. As I went through pictures there is one from our last family vacation in San Diego in 2006 that I have to share – because Lisa is never far from my thoughts. Merry Christmas to all.
The Langbehn- Pond’s
My Family – complete. How I am choosing to remember my life – for now
BEHIND THE QUIET MORE THAN A SHORT –
Filmmaker Lauren Fash and Producer/Actress/Writer Susan Graham heeded a call. No, not my phone call, but rather, one from a higher source on the evolutionary plane. It led to their collaboration on the powerful new short, Quiet, which Lauren directed and Susan produced/wrote, and starred in, opposite Jaclyn Betham. I’d rather not hedge your expectations by saddling it with expository spoilers – let’s just let it suffice to say this moving short explores a love story, twists of fate, and the meaning of family in a way that’ll resonate for anyone who’s ever been in love. I had the opportunity to chat with the ladies over the phone last week in preparation of it being shown at this year’s ShortFest.
TBL: Right before the credits roll, the film is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Pond. Who was she, and how did she inspire this film?
Lauren Fash: When we were coming up with the idea for Quiet we came across a story about a woman named Janice Langbehn, and she was actually denied the right to say goodbye to her partner, Lisa Pond, in the hospital in Miami in 2007. We read about the incident – basically they were on vacation with their small children and it was their 15-year anniversary. They were in Miami getting ready to leave on a cruise and Lisa collapsed. She was taken to the hospital in Miami. When Janice went there, a social worker walked up to her and said, ‘You’re in an antigay city and you don’t have any rights here and if you don’t show me this, this and this, you’re not going to see her.’
LF: Yeah, So Janice said, ‘I do have those legal documents.’ She had the power or attorney and a living will; they had done everything because Janice was sick with MS. They had already gone through all these extremes that most straight couples don’t go through – you don’t think about that stuff until later in life. So they refused to let her see her. They refused to let her say goodbye. They only told her she was dying. They wouldn’t let the children in to see her or say goodbye to their mother. We read this article and we were horrified by it.
Janice actually got in touch with us right before we started filming and I talked to her for about 1½ hours. She told me the entire story. She’s the one who told me the social worker said it was an ‘antigay state.’ I tried to put it in the movie but I just couldn’t. It was so heavy-handed I wasn’t sure anybody would believe it.
So this project has morphed into much more. I see on IMDB that you are doing an actual documentary about their story now, correct?
LF: Right. So we’ve been in touch with Janice for over the past year and half. When the film was completed we flew to Washington to show her the film at her house, and we met her for the first time. We got a crew together to film Janice’s reaction to the film. I was so moved by just talking to her over the phone, and by her story and the way she told it and I just felt we needed to share it with people. We literally had her look into the camera and tell her story and we’ve made it into a short documentary.
We’re making a feature version of Quiet, as well.
OK, I was going to ask, because it seems like so many Shorts these days are shopping them to make a feature.
LF: A lot of filmmakers do this, it’s kind of like insurance. It’s like, ‘Hey, this is what I can do, this is my potential and the potential of the story.’ And that’s what we did with Quiet. As our relationship with Janice evolved and the project evolved, we realized the most powerful thing in Quiet was Janice herself. Quiet [the film at ShortFest] was inspired by her story, so it was fictional characters.
In the feature we’ve decided to tell her story and literally cast her and Lisa and their children as well. I mean these women were saints, you know? I think anyone watching this movie cannot argue the fact that what happened to them was wrong and this needs to change. It’s wrong in our country and it’s time to make it right.
Susan, how did you get involved in this?
Susan Graham: I worked on a couple of things [with Lauren] before and I think Lauren mentioned the article about Lisa. I always knew that I wanted to do a short film about patient medical rights in some way, because I thought it was powerful. I’m familiar with medicine in general coming from a medical family and I thought her story was so heartbreaking. At the time, I didn’t want to stick to it too exact because – our different artistic rights, and we were trying to do something a little different with this short film. But through time and getting to know Janice we want to do that for the feature.
And, in looking to create the short film I just wanted to have the best story teller I could, so I got with Lauren and we teamed up and co-wrote the short and co-produced it and she directed it and I’m in it.
In Quiet, the feature length film, you said it is actually going to be Janice’s story?
LF: Yes. It’ll basically be, the film will be about their relationship and also showcase that event so people can see who this happened to. [They were] not just your everyday couple. They literally raised 25 foster children – most of whom were either disabled or HIV positive. They legally adopted four children. Their first son suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. They are just lovely, caring people and for this to happen to them, of all people, it’s just heartbreaking!
Do you think with the feature film you are looking for a broader audience? I think there are a lot of people in the heterosexual community that don’t even realize these civil rights are being denied.
LF: This is going to educate people on a subject that a lot of people know nothing about. You know, there’s this argument going on around the country about gay marriage and well, “it’s a sacred act” and all that. At the heart of it, it’s a human right, and this film showcases the importance of having the same rights so everyone is protected.
You are bringing up the fact that we, as a society, have to look at a broader definition of “family.” How do you think this film is going to start that dialog?
SG: I think that’s a great question, we haven’t been asked that. One of things we focused on in the short film is we really wanted to show how for a lot of young people, (but for especially the homosexual community), our friends, our family, our families have not accepted them. But I think Janice and Lisa created a family in a nontraditional way – but it didn’t make them any less their kids, or their mothers.
I think it’s a really beautiful, wonderful and important story that everyone can identify with. We all relate to the themes of love and loss. And that’s why this film isn’t just for the LGBT community. It’s for people who may have not thought about this issue, in that way. A personal connection with something that changes your mind. And for Janice and Lisa there’s no way to get around the fact that there was a huge, huge injustice.
If You Go –
Quiet is part of the “Love, Lust and Other L Words” Program, Sunday , June 24th at 3 pm, at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.
~~~~~~~~ Local Hometown Coverage ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LACEY, Wash. — Janice Langbehn considers herself an accidental activist. And this year, she is being honored greatly for her efforts.
Langbehn will be on the Donate Life float at the Rose Parade Monday morning. She will ride in honor of her partner, Lisa Pond, an organ donor who died nearly five years ago from a brain aneurysm while they were vacationing. Their story received national attention because Langbehn and their children were not allowed to visit Pond as she passed away in a hospital.
Following Pond’s death, Langbehn worked tirelessly to change the laws. President Obama recently revised hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples at hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. For her efforts, Langbehn received the prestigious Presidential Citizens Medal in October, an honor that was awarded to only 13 people this year.
Langbehn is now preparing to honor her partner by riding in the Rose Parade. The Donate Life float will feature dozens of organ donors by displaying giant pictures of the donors that are made of flowers — known as floragraphs.
“I’m sure it’ll be emotional,” Langbehn said. “I still miss her. We were together 18 years.”
Langbehn wanted Jerry Lawrence, the Florida man who received Pond’s heart, to be in the grandstand during the parade. Lawrence was prepared to make the trip, but other health issues, not connected to his heart, kept him from flying.
So he will watch the parade on TV. And Langbehn knows her partner will be watching from above.
“I’m just honored they asked us,” she said. “To continue Lisa’s legacy.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2011
President Obama Honors Recipients of the 2011 Citizens Medal
Thirteen recipients from across the country visit White House to receive Presidential award for exemplary service to their fellow citizens
WASHINGTON, DC – On October 20, 2011, President Obama will welcome to the White House the 13 recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. “This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said President Obama. “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Like last year, President Obama is recognizing Americans this year whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals:
Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States, or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world.
Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances.
Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities; for example, those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans.
Whose service has had a sustained impact on others’ lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. The ideal nominee for a Citizens Medal is a person whose work has had a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others.
Nearly 6,000 public nominations were submitted, and the President has selected the following awardees:
Steve and Liz Alderman, Armonk, NY
After Liz and Steve Alderman lost their son, Peter, in the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, they founded the Peter C. Alderman Foundation. The Foundation works to heal the emotional wounds felt by victims of terrorism and mass violence by training health care professionals and establishing clinics in post-conflict countries including Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Haiti. Their clinics treat thousands in need and contribute to shaping a positive image of America in the world. The Aldermans receive the Citizens Medal for aiding the victims of conflict who might otherwise go unaided.
Clarence Lee Alexander, Fort Yukon, AK
Sometimes called the “grandfather of tribal government” in Alaska for his long-held role as Chief of Fort Yukon, Clarence Alexander has done extensive work cleaning up the Yukon River, resulting in closure of numerous open-burning dumps and the removal or recycling of millions pounds of waste. Alexander is former Grand Chief of the Gwich’in people of Alaska. Alexander receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating how much good a dedicated leader can accomplish.
Camilla Bloomquist, Penn Yan, NY
For over 30 years, Milly Bloomquist has created and operated numerous programs to help the poor and underserved in Penn Yan, New York, making her a living legend. She founded Food for the Needy and Christmas for the Needy. Recently, she implemented the Weekend Backpack Program in Yates County, where children receive free meals at their schools. Bloomquist receives the Citizens Medal for her lifelong commitment to serving those in need.
Judith Broder, Studio City, CA
In 2004, Judith Broder created The Soldiers Project, which has worked to meet the mental health needs of servicemembers, their families, and returning veterans. Through The Soldiers Project, over 600 therapists have provided over 7,400 hours of pro bono, confidential psychological services to veterans. The Soldiers Project seeks to decrease the disruptive effects of repeated deployments, enhance post-deployment transition and re-integration, and mitigate suffering related to PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, domestic violence, and depression. Broder receives the Citizens Medal for her dedication to those who serve this country.
Vijaya Emani, Strongsville, OH
Vijaya Emani became a role model for victims of domestic abuse because of her strength and determination in overcoming domestic abuse in her own life, and by speaking out about the issue publicly, she broke a long held taboo in the Indian American community. Emani lived and breathed many causes including projects to aid the homeless and promoting diversity. Although she was killed in a tragic vehicle accident, her example and message live on. Emani posthumously receives the Citizens Medal for her courage in overcoming and speaking out against abuse.
John Keaveney, Los Angeles, CA
In 1992, John Keaveney, a Vietnam combat veteran, founded New Directions, a home for homeless and disabled veterans with addiction and mental health problems. Keaveney overcame personal struggles and turned his life around in the 1980s. He began working on veterans issues, deciding that no veteran who asked for help should suffer what he did. When he began his program, he made a promise that no veteran would leave it unless he had a suit, a place to stay, and an income. Keaveney receives the Citizens Medal for ensuring that America keeps its promises to veterans.
Roger Kemp, Leawood, KS
Roger Kemp faced the ultimate parent’s nightmare. In a random act of violence, Roger’s daughter Ali, 19, was killed by a predator in the summer of 2002. In response Kemp created The Ali Kemp Defense Education (TAKE) Foundation. Inspired by his belief that his daughter could have survived if she had an edge on her attackers, TAKE has trained more than 46,000 women in self-defense. Kemp has also advocated for “wanted” billboards as a means to locate and arrest criminals. Kemp receives the Citizens Medal for working to empower young women to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
Janice Langbehn, Lacey, WA
While on vacation with her family in February 2007, Janice Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who had experienced a brain aneurysm and later died alone. With the help of Lambda Legal and GLAAD, she filed a federal lawsuit and worked to get her story out to the nation. Janice’s story received attention from President Obama, who personally apologized to her for the way she and her family was treated. He went on to revise hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, which went into effect this past January for any hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Langbehn receives the Citizens Medal for her efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally.
Ida Martin, Bluffton, SC
Ida Martin created Bluffton Self Help to assist working families, disabled residents, and senior citizens in the Bluffton, South Carolina area when they suffered a financial crisis. In 2010 alone, Bluffton Self Help provided 62,000 items of food to 11,600 people and provided clothing to almost 9,000 people. Additionally, Bluffton Self Help provided families with short-term emergency financial assistance toward housing/utility assistance, medical assistance, or children’s program assistance. Mrs. Martin’s philosophy is to help those who have the desire to help themselves. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for providing relief to many in moments of despair.
Margaret Martin, Los Angeles, CA
After observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, Margaret Martin realized those gang members would rather be doing what the kid was doing, but would never have the chance. She decided to dedicate her life to making quality arts education available to those in the most underserved, gang reduction zones of Los Angeles, and founded the Harmony Project in 2001. The organization has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children’s lives with music.
Michelle McIntyre-Brewer, Jefferson, MD
Michelle McIntyre-Brewer is a military spouse, mother, and founder of Soldier’s List. She founded Soldier’s List in 2003 to support high risk Service Members and their families. Soldier’s List has sent tens of thousands of care packages around the world providing critical medical relief. Michelle works diligently with the military community to educate families about their rights and responsibilities within Tricare and other services offered. McIntyre-Brewer receives the Citizens Medal for going above and beyond on behalf of our troops and their families.
Roberto Perez, Miami, FL
As President of Alfalit, a non-profit organization combating illiteracy, Robert Perez has led the charge for fighting illiteracy from Africa to South America, and as a result 7 million people have learned to read in 22 countries in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Perez previously worked as a Miami-Dade County social worker and as an ordained Methodist Pastor counseling prison inmates and recovering alcoholics. Perez receives the Citizens Medal for his passion and work on behalf of the less fortunate around the globe.
Pride Speech, White House
6:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Welcome to the White House. (Applause.)
Nothing ruins a good party like a long speech from a politician. (Laughter.) So I’m going to make a short set of remarks here. I appreciate all of you being here. I have learned a lesson: Don’t follow Potomac Fever — (laughter) — because they sounded pretty good.
We’ve got community leaders here. We’ve got grassroots organizers. We’ve got some incredible young people who are just doing great work all across the country -– folks who are standing up against discrimination, and for the rights of parents and children and partners and students —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: And spouses.
THE PRESIDENT: — and spouses. (Applause.) You’re fighting for the idea that everyone ought to be treated equally and everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see fit. (Applause.)
Now, I don’t have to tell the people in this room we’ve got a ways to go in the struggle, how many people are still denied their basic rights as Americans, who are still in particular circumstances treated as second-class citizens, or still fearful when they walk down the street or down the hall at school. Many of you have devoted your lives to the cause of equality. So you all know that we’ve got more work to do.
But I think it’s important for us to note the progress that’s been made just in the last two and a half years. I just want everybody to think about this. (Applause.) It was here, in the East Room, at our first Pride reception, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a few months after I took office, that I made a pledge, I made a commitment. I said that I would never counsel patience; it wasn’t right for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for folks to tell African Americans to be patient in terms of their freedoms. I said it might take time to get everything we wanted done. But I also expected to be judged not by the promises I made, but the promises I kept.
Now, let’s just think about it. I met with Judy Shepard. I promised her we’d pass an inclusive hate crimes law, named after her son, Matthew. And with the help of Ted Kennedy and others, we got it done and I signed the bill. (Applause.)
I met Janice Lang-ben, who was barred from the bedside of the woman she loved as she lay dying, and I told her we were going to put a stop to that discrimination. And I issued an order so that any hospital in America that accepts Medicare or Medicaid –- and that means just about every hospital in America -– has to treat gay partners just as they have to treat straight partners. Nobody in America should have to produce a legal contract. (Applause.)
I said we’d lift the HIV travel ban. We got that done. (Applause.) We put in place the first national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. (Applause.)
A lot of people said we weren’t going to be able to get “don’t ask, don’t tell” done, including a bunch of people in this room. (Laughter.) And I just met Sue Fulton, who was part of the first class of women at West Point, and is an outstanding advocate for gay service members. It took two years through Congress -– working with Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates and the Pentagon. We had to hold together a fragile coalition. We had to keep up the pressure. But the bottom line is we got it done. And in a matter of weeks, not months, I expect to certify the change in policy –- and we will end “don’t ask, don’t tell” once and for all. (Applause.)
I told you I was against the Defense — so-called Defense of Marriage Act. I’ve long supported efforts to pass a repeal through Congress. And until we reach that day, my administration is no longer defending DOMA in the courts. The law is discriminatory. It violates the Constitution. It’s time for us to bring it to an end. (Applause.)
So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community. I have delivered on what I promised. Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done. There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me. (Laughter.) I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change. I understand that. I know I can count on you to let me know. (Laughter and applause.) This is not a shy group. (Laughter.)
But what I also know is that I will continue to fight alongside you. And I don’t just mean as an advocate. You are moms and dads who care about the schools that your children go to. You’re students who are trying to figure out how to pay for going to college. You’re folks who are looking for good jobs to pay the bills. You’re Americans who want this country to prosper. So those are your fights, too. And the fact is these are hard days for America. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to, not only on ending discrimination; we’ve got a lot of work to do to live up to the ideals on which we were founded, and to preserve the American Dream in our time -– for everybody, whether they’re gay or straight or lesbian or transgender.
But the bottom line is, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because of the changes we’ve achieved just in these past two years. Think about it. It’s astonishing. Progress that just a few years ago people would have thought were impossible. And more than that, what gives me hope is the deeper shift that we’re seeing that’s a transformation not just in our laws but in the hearts and minds of people — the progress led not by Washington but by ordinary citizens.
It’s propelled not by politics but by love and friendship and a sense of mutual regard and mutual respect. It’s playing out in legislatures like New York. (Applause.) It’s playing out in courtrooms. It’s playing out in the ballot box, as people argue and debate over how to bring about the changes where we are creating a more perfect union. But it’s also happening around water coolers. It’s happening at Thanksgiving tables. It’s happening on Facebook and Twitter, and at PTA meetings and potluck dinners, and church halls and VFW Halls.
It happens when a father realizes he doesn’t just love his daughter, but also her partner. (Applause.) It happens when a soldier tells his unit that he’s gay, and they say, well, yeah, we knew that –- (laughter) — but, you know, you’re a good soldier. It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person out there know that they’re not alone. (Applause.) It happens when people look past their differences to understand our common humanity.
And that’s not just the story of the gay rights movement. It is the story of America, and the slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union.
I want thank you for your contribution to that story. I’m confident we’re going to keep on writing more chapters.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
What a moment – I will share more but wanted to get this up on the blog. If you met me and took pictures with me – please, if you can forward them to I would be very appreciative.