Voice For Equality: Helen Chavez

In a public education campaign in 2008, Helen Chavez said, "My husband spent his life fighting for dignity for all people. César was one of the first civil rights leaders to speak out for gays and lesbians, because he understood that you can’t demand equality for your own people while tolerating discrimination against anyone else.

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Voice for Equality: Julian Bond

Social activist and leader of the American civil rights movement, Julian Bond has been Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the USA's oldest and largest civil rights organization, since 1998, and was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bond has been elected to both houses of the Georgia Legislature, where he served for twenty years.

In a 2006 speech at the University of Virginia, Bond noted, "Marriage is a civil right. If you don’t want gay people to marry in your church, good for you. But you can’t say they can’t marry in your city."

He said, "Like race, our sexuality is not a preference -- it is immutable, unchangeable, and the Constitution protects us all against prejudices and discrimination based on immutable characteristics."

Under Bond, the NAACP released a statement in February 2009 supporting the effort to overturn Proposition 8. "The NAACP has long opposed any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any groups or individuals from guarantees of equal protections," Bond wrote in a press release.

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Voice for Equality: Alice Huffman

Huffman is the current President of the California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.

She was appointed to Governor Jerry Brown's cabinet, served as the executive director for politics for the California Teacher's Association, and founded A. C. Public Affairs, a public affairs firm specializing in public and grass-roots advocacy.

In 2008, Huffman spoke throughout California in support of the freedom to marry as a civil right. Also under Huffman's leadership the State Conference joined forces with a half-dozen other civil rights organizations to file 30 Friend-of-the-Court briefs to overturn Proposition 8. Huffman said:

"We are not treating all Californians equally if some can marry and others cannot. The law should protect all people equally, and all Californians should have the choice to marry. I am honored to join other civil rights leaders in calling on our state to end its ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples."

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Voice for Equality: Mildred Loving

Mildred Loving and her white husband Richard Perry Loving were appellants in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. Her case effectively ended anti-miscegenation laws, or race-based restrictions on marriage.

On June 12, 2007, the anniversary of the case
Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Loving recalled, "My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love... The older generation's fears and prejudice have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry..."

She continued:
"I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry."


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Voice for Equality: Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, continues the legacy of her celebrated father through the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She currently works in public education as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools. Kennedy also serves on the board for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and for the Commission on Presidential Debates, and served on presidential candidate Barack Obama's committee to select a running mate.

Kennedy issued a statement saying that she "supports full equality and marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples," when asked by the New York Times in December 2008 about same-sex marriage.

Ben Bernard nominated Caroline Kennedy to be a Voice for Equality.


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Voice for Equality: Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006), wife of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an active civil rights activist throughout her husband's career and beyond, helping to organize the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and actively advocating civil rights legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She continued to lead the civil rights movement after her husband's 1968 assassination.

In 2004, King called same-sex marriage a "civil rights issue" and denounced a Constitutional amendment which proposed to ban marriage equality. She said, "A Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

King was an early advocate for marriage equality and a vocal endorser of the Marriage Resolution, for which Ben nominated her to be a Voice for Equality.

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Voice for Equality: Christine Chavez

The next nomination for "Voices for Equality": Civil rights activist Christine Chavez, who currently serves as the District Director for State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero.

Chavez is the former Political Director of United Farm Workers, the union which her grandfather Cesar Chavez co-founded. Latina Magazine recently named her as one of their top Latinas of 2004 for her longtime involvement with civil rights issues-- in particular her recent work to give same sex couples the right to marry under the law. In 2005, along with 200 other organizations, the UFW took a stand to support Assembly Bill (AB) 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

As part of Chavez's longstanding commitment to LGBT rights, she took a sabbatical from the UFW in 2005 to work with Equality California, the National Latona/o Coalition for Justice, National Freedom to Marry, GLAAD's Regional and People of Color Programs, and other LGBT groups to educate local communities about the importance of LGBT rights and marriage equality in California. She also advocated for marriage equality in 2008 by speaking at a "No on 8" rally in Fresno, California.

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Voice for Equality: Eva Paterson

For more than 30 years, Paterson has campaigned for civil rights. Paterson is the former Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, former vice-president of the ACLU, and co-founder/former chairwoman of the California Coalition for Human Rights.

She is the founder and president of the Equal Justice Society (EJS), a "national organization dedicated to changing the law through progressive legal theory, public policy and practice."

In 2008, Paterson and the Equal Justice Society joined other civil rights groups to petition the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8. She said, "We would be making a grave mistake to view Proposition 8 as just affecting the LGBT community. If the Supreme Court allows Proposition 8 to take effect, it would represent a threat to... all minorities."

Paterson wrote of her own inter-racial marriage in the San Francisco Chronicle in June 2008, "What gay men and lesbians are experiencing now as they seek to marry feels very familiar to me. The state has no right to tell anyone who they can and cannot love or marry. That is why this ballot initiative [Proposition 8] is misguided and cruel."

Thanks, Ben, for this nomination for Voices for Equality!


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Voice for Equality: Menachem Z. Rosensaft

Menachem Rosensaft is the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and was recently appointed as general counsel to the World Jewish Congress. He is an internationally recognized advocate promoting a tolerant State of Israel and racial/ethnic peace worldwide. He works against racism, bigotry, and religious intolerance in every form. "The critical lesson we have learned from our parents’ and grandparents’ tragic experiences is that indifference to the suffering of others is in itself a crime. Our place must be at the forefront of the struggle against every form of racial, religious or ethnic hatred.” (Speech, JTA News Bulletin, April 17, 2005)

On January 14, 2009, he wrote an op-ed in Jewish Week supporting marriage rights and criticizing religious leaders for attempting to impose their moral views on secular law.


"But aren’t gays and lesbians among those whom such judges and, for that matter, our legislators, serve? ...Republicans who tolerate their party’s platform calling for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages should be reminded of a similar constitutional amendment to prohibit interracial marriages proposed by Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry, Democrat of Georgia, in 1912 on the ground that 'intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant.' We must also bear in mind that the invidious 1935 Nuremberg Laws criminalized both marriages and extramarital intercourse 'between Jews and subjects of the state of German or related blood'..."
Thanks to Michelle Marzullo for the nomination!

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