“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

These have been called the most powerful and consequential words in American history. They are, but not just because they were thought, or said, or written. The words that hold us together as a people matter because individuals took them seriously - more seriously than the men profound enough to write but not live by them. Whether called abolitionists, suffragists, civil rights workers, or activists, they had one thing in common: they believed and showed their belief – not just with words and speech – but with truth and action.

This is the spirit that drives us at the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) - everyone from donors and supporters to board and staff members.

This is why the ACLU SoCal stands for justice - for everyone. This is why this year has been so challenging. Even as we celebrate landmark successes – such as the long march to establish marriage equality, which has been marked from beginning to end by the work of the ACLU – we know the truth. We know there is more work ahead to affirm the dignity and rights of the LGBTQ community and especially transgender people. And the deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of the police show just how painfully far our nation is from treating everyone equally.

This is why the work must continue and we must look for new and better ways to protect people and their rights. This is why we spearheaded the launch of MobileJusticeCA - an innovative and free smartphone app to preserve video of police encounters and teach people about their rights.

With your support, we can speak up and tell the truth, challenge unjust laws, and reform political institutions. We can make America live up to the words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.