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December 11, 2002

Linda Simmons Hight
(323) 960-3500

Human Rights “Multathlon” Running Team Presented with Rainbow Flag in West Hollywood

In a ceremony today at Metropolitan Community Church in West Hollywood, gay rights activist Keith Relkin presented a rainbow flag to the captain of a team running 250 miles throughout Los Angeles on behalf of human rights. The event is the L.A. “Multathlon” for Human Rights and Tolerance, sponsored by the Church of Scientology International.

Presenting the rainbow flag, adopted by the gay community as an emblem of diversity, Relkin declared that “gay rights are human rights” and acknowledged the running team for their dedication to all forms of human rights. “Over the years I have worked with the Church of Scientology for greater inclusion of gay people like me, and today represents a milestone in that progress,” said Relkin.

He also commended Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Neil Thomas for supporting the Multathlon event and marathoner Bill Thomas for representing gay athletes in the Multathlon.

The 20 runners form one of dozens of diverse ethnic, religious and community groups uniting to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To draw attention to the Declaration and its meaning for Los Angeles today, the “multathlon” (“many contests”) started at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles December 10 and will end with a concert in Hollywood five days and 250 miles later.

Participating in the Multathlon are representatives of the county sheriff’s office, police and fire departments, city councils, churches and non-religious groups in every community along the route.

After the launch at City Hall Tuesday morning, individuals and teams from the participating communities have run, cycled, rollerbladed and skateboarded portions of the route, with the core team of athletes covering the entire route. The athletes stopped at Olivera Street, Chinatown, Koreatown, consulates on Wilshire Boulevard, houses of worship of numerous denominations, police and fire stations and schools. At each location, signatures were collected on the Multathlon Human Rights Proclamation to show support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and uniting Greater L.A.

The five days of events culminate Saturday, December 14 with a 3 p.m. grand finale festival and concert on L. Ron Hubbard Way in Hollywood near Sunset and Vermont.

The 2002 Multathlon is coordinated by the Church of Scientology International whose headquarters are in Hollywood, assisted by the International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance. The event is supported by the L.A. Multathlon Advisory Committee which includes Friends of the United Nations and ethnic and religious leaders from throughout Southern California.

For more information, visit humanrightsandtolerance.org

The Advisory Board:

Irving Sarnoff, Friends of the United Nations
Norma Foster, United Nations Association of USA Pacific-Los Angeles Chapter
Rev. Leonard Jackson, First African Methodist-Episcopal Church Los Angeles
Rabbi Allen Freehling, Los Angeles Human Rights Commission
Lynsey Bartilson, Youth for Human Rights International
Susie Yellowhorse Jensen, Southern California Indian Center
Dr. Pouran Ameli, America Iranian Friendship Association
David L. Cardenas, San Gabriel Valley Council Boy Scouts of America
Geraldine Washington, NAACP Los Angeles Chapter
Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Kol Tikrah Temple
Judge Ellen DeShazer, Superior Court Judge
Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, Sikh Dharma of Southern California
Grand Master Tong Sak Chun, World Cultural & Sports Foundation Inc.
Rev. Janet Weiland, Church of Scientology International

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