American Foundation for Equal Rights

Los Angeles, CA   |  http://www.afer.org
This organization has not appeared on the IRS Business Master File in a number of months. It may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Mission

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American.

As the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge of California’s Proposition 8, now known as Hollingsworth v. Perry, AFER is leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law for every American.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director

Adam Umhoefer

Main address

6565 Sunset Blvd, Suite 400

Los Angeles, CA 90028 USA

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EIN

94-3478012

NTEE code info

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Lesbian/Gay Rights (R26)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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Hollingsworth v. Perry

An integral part of our nation’s character and laws is the principle that all Americans are entitled to be treated equally by their government. And more than 30 years ago, in its landmark decision to strike down bans on interracial marriage, the Supreme Court of the United States recognized that marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man.
Proposition 8 amended the California Constitution to eliminate marriage rights for same-sex couples. As a result, the State of California is in violation of the United States Constitution, the “Supreme Law of the Land.” The United States Constitution guarantees every American basic fundamental rights, including the right to equal protection under the law.
As its first step in its mission to advance equal rights for every American, The Foundation filed a federal court challenge against Proposition 8 in May 2009. The case’s significance has seen it move swiftly toward trial, which began on January 11, 2010.
Specifically, Proposition 8:
Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties.
Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
Discriminates on the basis of gender.
Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Foundation hired attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies (who notably faced-off against each other in Bush v. Gore), who are leading a team of lawyers from their firms, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Boies, Schiller & Flexner, to litigate the case against Proposition 8. The plaintiffs in the case are two same sex couples – Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo – who wish to marry but cannot because of Proposition 8.

Population(s) Served

AFER joined the federal constitutional challenge to Virginia’s ban on marriage equality, Bostic v. Rainey. The Bostic case contends that the Virginia Marriage Amendment and other Virginia laws that prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional, restrict personal freedom, and cause serious harm to loving and committed couples and their families.

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Goals & Strategy

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Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American.

• Eliminate politics from the debate: AFER brought about a paradigm shift in the marriage equality movement by removing politics from the equation and focusing solely on the legal arguments and constitutional principles at stake. This strategy moved the national debate so that marriage is now viewed as a fundamental human right, and not as a political issue.

• Highlight AFER’s bipartisan leadership: AFER brought together an unprecedented coalition from all political walks of life, dedicated to working together to achieve full federal marriage equality. This includes Board Member Ken Melhman, former chair of the Republican National Committee, along with Advisory Board Co-Chairs Robert Levy, Chairman of the Cato Institute, and John Podesta, Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress. AFER’s bipartisan approach has been emulated nationally, as was evidenced in the legislative debates in New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, Washington and New Jersey.

• Establish an emotional tie to the case: Hollingsworth v. Perry and Bostic v. Rainey are not only cases about fourcouples who want to be married, but also about the countless couples who are excluded from to the institution of marriage. AFER’s focus on the human element in the cases has been central in the campaign to reshape public opinion.

• Operate a campaign-style war room: AFER maintains a campaign-style war room worthy of a presidential campaign, staffed by a communications director, a communications consultant, a TV booker, a social media director, two researchers and a press assistant as well as a team of volunteers. The war room operates between court hearings, ensuring AFER’s talking points and surrogates dominate news coverage of the case.

• Control the story and shape coverage: AFER’s leadership, attorneys and plaintiffs regularly interface with the press to educate and inform reporters about the different facets of the case, its progress and the legal arguments presented. The AFER team also appears regularly at conferences and other speaking engagements to keep the public informed.

• Tell a consistent story: AFER is instrumental in managing and enforcing message discipline throughout the cases and continues to augment the legal strategy with an aggressive strategic communications plan.

• Show editorial board support: During all phases of the cases, AFER briefs lead editorial writers at major national news outlets generating dozens of editorials backing marriage equality.

• Connect with opinion leaders: AFER regularly updates influential columnists and pundits to ensure that carefully targeted messaging shapes Sunday Show interviews, op-ed columns, cable news debates and speaking engagements.

• Engage supporters via social media: AFER’s digital strategy has been exceptionally effective, amplifying the organization’s social reach and influence. During each court hearing, Twitter, Facebook and other social media updates allowed AFER to quickly relay in-court developments to supporters. AFER’s social media network currently exceeds 186,000 members on Facebook and Twitter.

The success of Hollingsworth v. Perry was historic. It was the first case to be fully briefed and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court involving the right of gay and lesbian Americans to marry.

Not only was AFER’s case successful in the court of law, but also in the court of public opinion nationwide. AFER’s case resulted in more attention to the issue of marriage equality than ever before. Capitalizing on the opportunity that Perry provided to inform civic dialogue and fundamentally change public perception about discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans, we saw extraordinary results:

• In a significant shift in public opinion, now more than 30 national polls show a solid majority of Americans support the freedom to marry.
• President Obama became the first president to support full equality for gay and lesbian Americans when he announced his support in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News. Subsequently, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., filed a brief on behalf of the United States Government as amicus curiae, or “friend of the Court,” in support of AFER’s Plaintiffs.
• Over 100 prominent Republicans and 100 leading American companies signed amicus briefs in support of AFER’s case.
• Using the official court transcripts and moving personal stories of AFER’s plaintiffs, Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black created “8,” a 90-minute play documenting the Prop. 8 trial. Now, with local readings taking place all over the country and around the world, more than 70,000 people all over the world have seen one of the local readings of “8”.
• A total of 15 states now enjoy the freedom to marry and no less than 37% of Americans live in a state with marriage equality.
• Our victory in Perry initiated a domino effect of marriage equality cases being filed across the country. Since the success of Perry, more than 30 cases have been filed in 20 states to win marriage equality.

Financials

American Foundation for Equal Rights
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Operations

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American Foundation for Equal Rights

Board of directors
as of 1/7/2014
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen President

Bruce Cohen Productions

Michele Reiner Treasurer

Dustin Black

No Affiliation

Ken Mehlman

KKR

Rob Reiner

Castle Rock Entertainment

Chad Grifiin

Human Rights Campaign

Jonathan Lewis

Jonathan Lewis & Associates

Kristina Schake

L'Oreal USA