ACLU Launches Marriage Campaign to Move Americans to Treat Families of Same-Sex Couples More Fairly

May 16, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@aclu.org

Executive Director of Equality Utah to Lead the Charge

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union today announced plans to launch a national Marriage Campaign to persuade Americans that it is unfair to deny legal protections to the families of same-sex couples. The campaign will be led by Michael Mitchell, who comes to the ACLU after serving as the Executive Director of Equality Utah, that state's lesbian and gay advocacy organization.

"Our Constitution guarantees basic fairness to all people, yet lesbian and gay couples who make lasting commitments to each other just like married couples, are denied protections for their families," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "With states racing to enact amendments that will forever ban same-sex couples from getting legal protections, it is critical to show why it's wrong to keep people from visiting their partners in the hospital or from making emergency medical decisions, and how it hurts children to be legal strangers to their parents."

The goal of the Marriage Campaign is to step up the dialogue with the American people and show through firsthand accounts how lesbian and gay couples and their children suffer when their families are not recognized by the law. Among other public education efforts, the campaign will offer assistance to local campaigns fighting constitutional amendments that seek to ban gay people from marriage and other family protections.

"One thing I learned during Utah's recent constitutional amendment challenge is that most people don't realize the toll these measures take on very real Americans with very real families," said Michael Mitchell, the new Director of the ACLU's Marriage Campaign. "When people are given the opportunity to see the chaos caused by our government's treatment of gay families, their attitudes change. I'm eager to bring the lessons I learned here in Utah and from my colleagues around the country and focus them into an active, honest conversation with the American public."

Mitchell has served as the Executive Director of Equality Utah since 2001, when he helped to oversee the campaign to defeat Utah's anti-gay relationship amendment. He is also on the board of the Equality Federation, a network of statewide LGBT advocacy organizations. Prior to joining Equality Utah, he worked as a senior advisor on the congressional election campaign for Donald Dunn. He also served as the Executive Director of the Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards.

"We're at a defining moment in the civil rights struggle for gay people," said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "While we have recently made several important breakthroughs, our opponents are motivated like never before. It's time to fight back, and with Michael's enthusiasm and leadership we hope to show America that this is simply a matter of basic fairness for all families."

To learn more about the ACLU's efforts towards greater fairness in marriage, visit /getequal/ffm/index.html.

 

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