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.
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.
BASED ON AN EMAIL NEWS RELEASE FROM THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
Jan. 9, 2010