The White House on Friday announced gay rights activist Jeanne Manford would receive the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor.

Manford, who died last month at the age of 92, founded with her husband Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972 as a response to the brutal beating of her gay son, Morty, while attending a gay rights demonstration in New York City.

“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” Obama said in a statement. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”

PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby said Manford's legacy started with a simple act of love.

“When Jeanne Manford publicly stood up for her gay son in 1972, she had no idea that her actions would spark a movement that would change the lives of so many individuals and families,” said Huckaby. “It started out as a simple act of love, but Jeanne's legacy lives on, as straight allies continue to stand alongside their LGBT loved ones, united by their collective belief in a better – and more equal – tomorrow. Her voice has been joined by millions of others who have raised their voices and will continue to do so in support of acceptance, fairness, and equality.”

Twelve additional civilians will also be honored at the February 15 evening event to be held at the White House.