AmFAR's Prestigious Award of Courage for Legal Defense Presented to ACLU AIDS Project for 'Pioneering' Work

June 21, 2000 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — Recognizing the American Civil Liberties Union’s decades of work fighting for the rights of people with HIV – and mobilizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities against the epidemic – the American Foundation for AIDS Research will present the ACLU AIDS Project with its Award of Courage tonight.

In a gala ceremony on Ellis Island, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, actor Eric McCormack (Will of NBC’s “Will and Grace”) and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo will pay tribute to the ACLU AIDS Project for its national leadership in legal defense for people with HIV. Other groups and individuals will also be honored as pioneers in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in the specific areas of activism, community-based medical research, organization-building and public information.

The ACLU AIDS Project began fighting for people with HIV in the earliest days of the epidemic, and continues to advocate for equal treatment and equal dignity for people with HIV. On the national level and through its unparalleled grassroots network in all 50 states, the ACLU AIDS Project implements a program of litigation, policy advocacy and public education to ensure that the basic rights of people with HIV are protected. Over the last two decades, this has spanned a broad spectrum, including fighting efforts to quarantine people with HIV in the early 1980s; representing public health and safety workers fired because of their HIV status; helping pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and ensuring that it applies to people with HIV; balancing public health goals with individual privacy rights; and battling HIV and AIDS in communities of color and other under-resourced communities.

“We are honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” said Matthew Coles, Director of the ACLU AIDS Project. “As we pause to honor our allies, we are mindful that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over, and that we all have an obligation to continue this fight wherever it takes us – from the Castro to Harlem to straight rural Oregon to prison cells in Mississippi.”

Joining Coles in accepting tonight’s Award of Courage are his predecessors as Directors of the ACLU AIDS Project, Nan Hunter and William Rubenstein.

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