Shortly after John and Char Cepek’s son came out in 1991, they joined the local PFLAG chapter. John volunteered to be a member of the chapter board and eventually was named chapter president. Elected to the national board of directors of PFLAG in 1998, John became its secretary in 2000 and vice-president in 2002. In November 2006, he became the national president.
John has been active in LGBT advocacy in other venues. He and his wife chaired the Open and Affirming Taskforce at the First Congregational Church of La Grange, Illinois, whose congregation voted to become Open and Affirming in 2000. In addition to serving as the director of publications of the University of Illinois at Chicago, John also co-chaired the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues. Throughout the last decade John and Char have led other PFLAG members to volunteer for Equality Illinois, which successfully campaigned to pass legislation in January 2005 that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Illinois Human Rights Act. (In January 2006 John and Char were recipients of the Equality Illinois Freedom Award.)
Later in 2006, John and Char were the primary litigants in raising objections to signatures on a petition calling for a state amendment to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. The amendment was successfully prevented from being on the ballot.
John is now the PFLAG National President Emeritus.
John and Char’s continued goal is to engage millions of straight Americans in the struggle for LGBT civil rights and sociocultural affirmation through PFLAG’s Straight for Equality program.