Voice for Equality: Nicholas Katzenbach

Nicholas Katzenbach is an American lawyer who served as United States Attorney General during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. He is best known for battling with former Alabama Gov. George Wallace over integration at that state's flagship public university (Mr. Katazenbach is at right in photo below). On June 11, 1963, Katzenbach was a primary participant in one of the most famous incidents of the Civil Rights struggle. Governor Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to stop desegregation of that institution by the enrollment of two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. This became known as the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door." Wallace stood aside only after being confronted by Katzenbach, accompanied by federal marshals and the Alabama National Guard. Learn more here.

On December 8, 2009, Mr. Katzenbach expressed his support for the New Jersey marriage equality movement by writing a powerful open letter to New Jersey's state senators:

Dear Senator,

I support and urge passage of the marriage equality bill.

I am fortunate in my own marriage of almost 64 years to a woman I love. I, like many older people, grew up in a society which disdained homosexuality and socially ostracized those who practiced it. I know it is difficult for many to put aside those feelings and support different relationships. But I believe there can be genuine love and affection for another of the same sex and I see no reason not to support those feelings or to seek to impose a different set of values in what amounts to a social bias. Love in a world of danger and difficulties is worth our wholehearted support and we have no right and no interest in imposing outdated social views on others.

It is always the right time to do what is right. And sometimes it takes courage and understanding to do so. Marriage equality legislation is the right policy to support. In our hearts we know that.


Nicholas deB. Katzenbach
65th Attorney General of the United States [Link]
Freedom to Marry salutes Nicholas Katzenbach as a Voice for Equality! Learn about other Voices for Equality here.

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