The ACLU of Southern California applauds the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for today's vote in opposition to Proposition 22, known as the Knight Initiative. The measure, which will come before California voters in March of 2000, would require the state of California to discriminate against same gender couples legally married in other states, should such marriages ever become legal. The ACLU, which has long opposed the measure as 'mean-spirited, divisive and unfair,' was represented before the board by Reverend James M. Lawson.
'The ACLU and its more than thirty thousand members stand in opposition to this hateful ballot measure,' said Rev. Lawson. 'The ACLU has long championed civil rights for all. The Knight Initiative will affect every Californian, not just our friends and loved ones who are gay or lesbian.'
Rev. Lawson continued, 'This initiative is couched in the language of morality and tradition, but is in fact founded on prejudice. This state simply cannot weaken the rights of any one person - or any one group - but must ensure that all people enjoy every right. We know that when similar laws have been passed in other states, the measures have been used to attack anti-discrimination protections. 'California must be above wedge politics. We applaud the Board of Supervisors for rising up against discrimination and voting 'No on Knight.''
Reverend Lawson, himself the son of a Methodist minister, served as a close advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for more than 10 years. In 1974, he became the pastor of the Holman United Methodist Church and subsequently the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to serving as a board member, Rev. Lawson has worked with the ACLU to desegregate the schools of Los Angeles. He currently is president of the Fellowship for Reconciliation, serves on the boards of the Interfaith Task Force on Central America, the ACLU-SC and the Coalition Against Police Abuse.
Today's vote against the Knight Initiative follows the County Human Relations Commission's request the Board of Supervisors oppose the Knight Initiative, citing the 'deleterious' effect it would have on human relations in the County. Numerous elected officials and government bodies have already stated their opposition to 'Knight' including Vice President Al Gore, the Los Angeles City Council, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors and U.S. Representative Tom Campbell.