PHILANTHROPY FRIDAY: Reggie Shuford With ACLU of Pennsylvania
Every Friday Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, an organization working to do everything from secure total rights for LGBT people to legalizing marijuana to protecting the reproductive rights of women in Pennsylvania.
Who are you? Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
When was ACLU PA founded? The ACLU of Pennsylvania was founded in 1951. Our national office was founded in 1920.
One-sentence mission statement: The ACLU of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending and expanding the individual rights and personal freedoms afforded to us all by the state and federal constitutions and the Bill of Rights.
The organization’s shining moment, to date? We’ve had multiple high-impact successes over the years, but the one that stands out recently is, of course, Whitewood v. Wolf, our freedom to marry lawsuit that resulted in Pennsylvania becoming the 19th state to allow same-sex couples to get married. A close second would be our win this past year in the voter ID case, which protected the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … I would say “thank you” profusely, then we would bolster our advocacy and communications staff. We love our lawyers, and the ACLU has been primarily known as a legal organization, but it has increasingly become apparent that we can’t rely on the courts alone to protect and advance civil liberties. For instance, in the fight for marriage equality, our legal victory and the recent victories around the country would not have happened if there also hadn’t been a major shift in public opinion on the issue. That shift was in part due to other types of advocacy.
We would use this expanded staff to work our way through our to-do list of priorities, which includes (but certainly isn’t limited to) passing a statewide law that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; legalizing marijuana; protecting the reproductive freedom for women in the commonwealth against assaults from the legislature; ending racial profiling by law enforcement; and reducing the number of people in Pennsylvania prisons for non-violent offenses.
Special events coming up? The Philadelphia 76ers have named the ACLU of Pennsylvania as the beneficiary of a 50/50 raffle held during their game on Saturday, December 13th, at 7:30pm. We hope to see plenty members of the community supporting us that evening!
Are there other ways I can contribute without giving money? Absolutely! One easy way is to sign up for our email list so you can find out when we need you to contact your elected official on a civil liberties issue. If you have time to do more than send an email, call your elected officials’ offices or meet with them or their staff in person. Very few people even know who their state representatives and senators are. It makes a big difference when officials know their constituents care about particular issues.
Of course, like most nonprofits, we are also always looking for great volunteers, everything from people who can help respond to the legal complaints we get to graphic designers to potential board members. You can find out more about volunteering on our website at www.aclupa.org/volunteer.