American Foundation For Equal Rights Names Advisory Board
The press release just landed in the hopper…
Ted Olson and David Boies to Open Trial Against Prop. 8 On Jan. 11; Civil Rights Leaders Julian Bond, Lt. Dan Choi, Margaret Hoover, Dolores Huerta, Cleve Jones, Stuart Milk, David Mixner, Hillary Rosen and Judy Shepard to Advise and Support Effort;For information, visit equalrightsfoundation.com
LOS ANGELES – The American Foundation for Equal Rights today announced its advisory board, which comprises a diverse and prominent roster of civil rights leaders:
• Julian Bond
• Lt. Dan Choi
• Margaret Hoover
• Dolores Huerta
• Cleve Jones
• Stuart Milk
• David Mixner
• Hillary Rosen
• Judy Shepard
“The diversity and prominence of this advisory board underscores that Proposition 8 is an affront to every American who believes in the equal protection under the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” said Board President Chad Griffin. “These civil rights leaders have profoundly affected the lives of millions of Americans, and we are proud to be working with them to help millions more.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights launched its groundbreaking federal court challenge to Prop. 8 in May, and brought together attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies to argue the case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Olson and Boies notably represented George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore respectively in the 2000 Supreme Court case that decided the presidency.
The backgrounds of the Advisory Board are below the fold.
Advisory Board Background
• Julian Bond is Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors. He co-founded and was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and was a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He served more than 20 years in the Georgia legislature after a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that the Georgia House of Representatives unconstitutionally denied him the seat he had won.
“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others,” Bond said. “This is not a special interest case, but one that should be of great importance to everyone who believes in the principles of equality on which this nation was founded.”
• Lt. Dan Choi is an Army Officer and Iraq War combat veteran who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with degrees in Arabic and environmental engineering. Choi is a leading advocate against the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.
“Soldiers, elected officials and civil servants alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. That oath should guide our leaders to reject discrimination of all kinds,” Choi said. "It is absolutely immoral that gay and lesbian soldiers can protect our country in wars overseas but return to America as second class citizens with inferior protections and recognition of their relationships and families."
• Margaret Hoover is a commentator on issues ranging from American politics to pop-culture. She is a Fox News Contributor, has guest co-hosted The View on ABC, and appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s Larry King Live, CBS’s The Early Show and PBS. Ms. Hoover served in George W. Bush’s White House, is a veteran of two Republican Presidential efforts and worked on Capitol Hill. She is an advocate for reforming the Republican Party through renewed emphasis on the conservative principles of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility and strong national security.
“The right to marry is an individual freedom that should not be a left v. right, Democrat v. Republican issue,” Hoover said. “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”
• Dolores Huerta, President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, co-founded the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez, and is a recipient of US Presidential Human Rights Award. She has led national efforts to stop the exploitation of farm workers and extend government protections and equal rights. She is a former Regent of the University of California.
“People from all over the world come to America because of its promise of freedom and equal rights,” Huerta said. “This case will move our nation closer to making that ideal more of a reality.”
• Cleve Jones founded the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which today honors more than 85,000 Americans, with affiliates of the Project active in more than 50 countries around the world. He was an aide to San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and a consultant to two California Assembly speakers.
"The consequences of discrimination are profound," Jones said. "This trial provides an unprecedented forum to reveal the true harm of measures like Proposition 8 without the spin and misdirection that dominate political campaigns."
• David Mixner's career spans the McGovern for president campaign to those of Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. After serving as campaign manager to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, he led the successful fight against California's Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Amendment, which would have banned gays and lesbians from being teachers.
“Americans should not have to win equal rights in a political contest,” Mixner said. “The U.S. Constitution guarantees every American fundamental rights, and when those rights are violated, our courts exist to protect us.”
• Stuart Milk, the openly gay nephew of the late San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, today continues to spread his uncle's message of hope for an America that provides equality to all. He has been a vocal advocate for LGBT equality around the world and for civil rights in the U.S., and recently accepted from President Obama the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on behalf of Harvey Milk.
"The nation has come a long way in the three decades since my uncle Harvey Milk passionately worked to bring forth the hope and dream of equal rights right here in San Francisco, however the painful and diminishing message of inequality still remains. We must work on several fronts and with multiple strategies in order to achieve the dream of equality that is unqualified for every American" Milk said.
• Hillary Rosen is a Huffington Post editor-at-large and a CNN political contributor. A former Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA), she also is currently Managing Partner of the Brunswick Group in Washington. Rosen serves on the boards of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the Creative Coalition and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. She has served two U.S. Senators and has lobbied and advocated for civil rights for 25 years.
"As exemplified by our legal team, this case transcends politics." Rosen said. "It doesn't advance a Democratic agenda or affect a Republican one. Equal rights form
the core of our nation's character and is something that all American families need and deserve."
• Judy and Dennis Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. The Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance" through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.
"The AFER court case to overturn Prop. 8 will help move us toward ending dangerous discrimination that is rooted in ignorance and hatred," Shepard said.
At trial, which begins January 11, Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, will weigh witness testimony, a multitude of documents and other evidence, and arguments presented by some of the nation’s most distinguished attorneys.
Olson and Boies represent Kris Perry & Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, two same-sex couples who wish to be married but have been denied marriage licenses because of Prop. 8.
“This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” their suit states. Please see: http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/legal-filings/plaintiffs-trial-brief/
According to the suit, Prop. 8:
• Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties.
• Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
• Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
• Discriminates on the basis of gender.
• Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
Olson and Boies will also point out the “crazy quilt” of separate, unequal and unconstitutional classifications of people that Prop. 8 has compelled the California government to create:
• Opposite-sex couples who have full marriage rights
• Same-sex couples who have no marriage rights
• Same-sex couples married between May and Nov. 2008 whose current marriages are recognized, but who will be unable to remarry if widowed or divorced
• Same-sex couples married in other states who may petition California for recognition.
The defendants have the burden of demonstrating that Prop. 8 is narrowly drawn to serve a compelling government interest. Olson and Boies will demonstrate at trial, however, that the initiative fails to advance even a single legitimate interest. Tellingly, when asked by Chief Judge Walker at an Oct. 14 hearing to identify any harm to opposite-sex marriage that would result from marriage equality, the defendants’ attorney answered “I don’t know.”
The case against Prop. 8 has proceeded with uncommon speed toward trial. In an order issued after the first hearing in the case, Chief Judge Walker stated: “Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings … the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. … The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial.”
“More than 30 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that marriage is one of the basic rights of man,” the suit states, referring to the Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia.
Griffin noted that near the time when the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans with its 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, a Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans did not approve of interracial marriage.
While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown were named defendants in their official capacities, along with other state and county officials, Prop. 8 is being defended in court by a prominent conservative organization, the Alliance Defense Fund. Gov. Schwarzenegger earlier filed a brief that did not dispute the unconstitutionality of Prop.8, and called for swift action by the courts. Attorney General Brown, the state’s chief law enforcement officer, filed a brief agreeing with the plaintiffs’ position that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.
The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) are participating in the case as amici (friends of the court) in support of the plaintiffs. The City and County of San Francisco, led by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, are supporting the plaintiffs’ team as co-counsel, with a specific focus on the negative impact Prop. 8 has on government services and budgets. Herrera and Stewart led the legal battle toward the California Supreme Court decision that struck down California’s previous same-sex marriage ban.
Olson is a former U.S. Solicitor General and is widely regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional lawyers, and has argued 55 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies ranks as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation, having secured landmark victories for clients in numerous areas of the law. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.
Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for nine years and are the parents of four boys. Perry is Executive Director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under five. She holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MSW from San Francisco State University. Stier is Information Technology Director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. She is originally from Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Perry and Stier first tried to marry in 2004, after the City of San Francisco began issuing licenses. They live in Berkeley, CA.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo have been together for eight years. Katami is a fitness expert and business owner who graduated from Santa Clara University before receiving his graduate degree from UCLA. Zarrillo is the General Manager of a theater exhibition company. A native of New Jersey, Zarrillo graduated from Montclair State University. Having wanted to marry each other for more than two years, they considered options including traveling to other states for a "civil union," but felt any alternative fell short of marriage. They live in Burbank, CA.
They have issued the following joint statement: "We and our relationships should be treated equally under the law. Our goal is to advance the cause of equality for all Americans, which is the promise that makes this nation so great."