ACLU Announces New Director of Women’s Rights Litigation

Civil Rights Attorney Ria Tabacco Mar Will Lead the Next Chapter of Women’s Rights for Century-Old Civil Rights Organization

November 12, 2019 9:45 am

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today announced Ria Tabacco Mar as the director of its Women’s Rights Project. Tabacco Mar replaces Lenora Lapidus, who passed away earlier this year.

“Ria has the vision, talent and resolve to be a force for gender equality,” said Louise Melling, ACLU Deputy Legal Director. “She will take the Women’s Rights Project and the ACLU to new heights.”

The Women’s Rights Project was co-founded by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1972 and has been a trailblazer in striving for systematic legal reform of women’s equality and economic rights. It has taken on significant cases to fight against the discrimination of women, including the military ban’s on women in combat, discrimination in advertising, equal access to parental leave, and institutional perpetuation of gender-based violence and harassment.

“I’m thrilled to help lead the fight for women’s rights work and gender equity. At time when our civil rights and liberties are under unprecedented attack, our work is even more urgent,” said Tabacco Mar.

Tabacco Mar previously served as a senior staff attorney for ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, fighting discrimination of all types, including gender stereotypes, sex segregation, as well as attempts to use religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people at school, at work, and in public places. Tobacco Mar was part of the ACLU’s litigation team in two cases now before the Supreme Court, Zarda v. Altitude Express and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, in which the Trump administration has argued it should be legal to fire someone because they are LGBTQ. Previously, she led the ACLU’s team in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case in which a same-sex couple was refused a wedding cake because they are gay.

She has been recognized in The Root 100 annual list of the most influential African Americans ages 25 to 45 and as one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association.

Prior to joining the ACLU in 2014, Tabacco Mar was a member of the board of directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union and served as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, where she participated regularly as amicus curiae on cases involving marriage equality.

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