AFER Calls It Quits

Last month Freedom To Marry triumphantly declared that it was “going out of business.” Today we get the same news from the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Via press release:

Together, we made history. Nearly six years ago, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was created with the specific mission of arguing for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court and to, while doing so, dramatically advance the American conversation on equality. And we accomplished that … and so much more.

* We returned marriage equality to California—our nation’s most populous state—and, later, to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

* With David Boies and Ted Olson as lead counsel, we smashed the partisan barrier that traditionally divided supporters and opponents of marriage equality. Namely, we brought prominent conservative voices to the debate and proved that marriage is not a partisan issue, but an American issue.

* We put equality on trial. For the first time ever, a federal court heard evidence as to why denying gay and lesbian Americans the right to marry is unconstitutional. And, more importantly, for the first time, we forced our opponents to make their best cases, under oath, as to why marriage bans based on fear and hatred should stand. And we shared that story with the world.

* But, perhaps, most importantly, we drew a line in the sand. We demanded that every American–whether a regular citizen, an editorial board writer, a member of Congress, or a Supreme Court justice–not only listen to the stories of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo–the brave plaintiffs fighting for justice–but that they also take a side.

The statement goes on to urge support for former AFER leader and current HRC head Chad Griffin as the HRC moves forward on the just-launched Equality Act campaign.

  • S1AMER

    Their job is done. Freedom to Marry’s job is done. (And, in both cases though in different ways, the jobs were done well!)

    But our job is anything but done. We all have a great deal of work to do to achieve full equality in America. We must continue to volunteer and contribute and vote carefully and persuade everyone we know to help us to that goal. And we must also unite with and assist efforts of other groups that are also denied the full rights of citizenship in this country.

  • OZ_in_TX

    Yes, we won the battle for Marriage Equality, and AFER was pretty instrumental in that effort. Still, each time I see these ‘Going Out Of Business Because We Won!’ posts, part of me wants to scream “THE WAR ISN’T OVER YET!!!” The Religious Reich isn’t going anywhere – and their efforts to make our newly-won marriage licenses worthless – is ratcheting up to a fever pace.

    • bkmn

      While AFER and FTM are closing shop we still have plenty of allies who have been right there with them in this fight like Lambda Legal and HRC. Lambda is already gearing up to fight clerks who don’t want to issue licenses and states that don’t want to recognize existing marriages so if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket send a donation to Lambda for all they have done and continue to do.

      • I was about to mention that it would be nice if these groups closing down would mention Lambda Legal in addition to HRC. Also the NCLR.

        • KT

          Its no surprise AFER only mentioned HRC – Chad Griffin founded AFER and is now president of HRC. Those other groups are his competitors for donations. HRC would rather see all the former AFER donations go to them. Unfortunately at the end of the day those orgs live and die by money – survival of the fittest I guess.

      • Victory Lap

        Agreed. In addition there is the residual and potentially ongoing work that the ACLU continues to do to make sure that marriage equality is enforced and to make sure the nuts finally surrender. @OZ_in_OK:disqus OZ_in_TX, it is time to move on to other groups and organizations who are trying to work for the equality of transgender people, teens who are thrown out on the streets for coming out, international gay rights, US Civil Rights Act amended and a permanent cure for HIV.

    • Circ09

      I did get an Email this weekend signed by Chad Griffin straight from HRC marketing about HRC’s efforts in Houston over HERO. It is HRC’s signature issue so hopefully they will be bringing in the bucks and gaypower.

      • Toasterlad

        They’ll throw the BIGGEST COCKTAIL PARTY EVER!!!

        • OrliJoe in Fla

          Heard at HRC:

    • uhhuhh

      No AFER was NOT. Rosa Parks Griffin has been desperately trying to take credit for it for AFER, but it was ACLU, Lambda, GLAD, and NCLR.

    • Gerry Fisher

      Better to close up shop and divert resources to groups already tackling the other issues than to morph the organization into yet another competing entity. We don’t necessarily need more LGBT organizations; we need more efficient organizations who cooperate better.

  • bkmn

    Going forward the biggest thing we can do is to make sure ALL of us and our allies get out to vote and encourage everyone not to vote for people that want to turn back the clock.

  • MattM

    One of my biggest regrets in life (so far) was not thanking Rob Reiner for his contributions to AFER and the fight to overturn Prop 8 when I saw him at the movies last year. Honestly, everyone involved with that org deserves heaps of praise.

    • S1AMER

      On the one hand, victory is its own reward. On the other hand — you’re absolutely right. We all owe him lots of thanks for providing seed money to get AFER up and running. And we all owe countless thanks to so many people for standing with us and contributing money and volunteer time — most definitely, we couldn’t have won alone.

  • Guest

    Counties in Alabama don’t yet have the freedom to marry. States are passing laws to let government officials opt out of their jobs as a way to shut down marriage equality or at least make it less accessible. And there are anti-equality groups still fundraising around the idea of constitutional amendments and other paths to overturning marriage equality. Our work is not yet done on this front and many others.

  • Phil

    It is illustrative that by forming these organizations tasked with focusing a single goal, we’ve experienced great success vs. having HRC, ACLU, Lambda, etc. take them on as yet another project.

    OZ_IN_TX’s post below analogizes that the war isn’t over yet, and he’s absolutely right, but FTM and AFER acted as the generals who led these particular battles and achieved remarkable success.

    • BobSF_94117

      It’s a pretty big insult to Lambda Legal to imply that they’ve taken up marriage equality as yet another project.

      HRC is open to criticism for casting about, looking for a purpose other than the one they’ve always had as national lobbying organization and coordinator/enabler of corporate relations.

      • teeveedub

        Also, the ACLU isn’t exactly new at the game. They’ve had a dedicated Gay Rights Project since the ’80s and participated in cases long before that. It’s not a good idea for us to disparage organizations that have been fighting on our behalf for such a long time simply because they weren’t at the forefront of our most recent struggle.

    • uhhuhh

      Um, AFER accomplished next to nothing. It was ACLU, Lambda, GLAD, and NCLR – our longstanding groups – that accomplished marriage equality.

  • Robert Schaaf

    And they gave Matt Baume the best gig ever!

  • Toasterlad

    Not sure why all these organizations are quitting when the fight is just getting started…especially if the plan is to leave matters in the incompetent and ineffectual hands of the HRC. Thank God Lamba Legal and the ACLU are still willing to fight.

    • MattM

      Are you saying that fancy cocktail parties do not yield significant societal and governmental change? /s/

    • uhhuhh

      ACLU and Lambda aren’t going anywhere. This flip-by-night group sprang up from a Chad Griffin tantrum when ACLU and Lambda tried to tell him that the Supreme Court was not ready to nationalize gay marriage in the Prop. 8 case.

    • billbear1961

      That reminds me it’s time to send a donation to at least ONE of those groups, perhaps both LL and the ACLU!

    • David L. Caster

      And you might want to add SPLC to that list.

  • Ninja0980

    The job to get marriage equality is done and for many couples, a battle that needed to be won.
    But there are other battles to be fought in housing, employment and safe schools for LGBT youth among other things.
    We can’t rest on our laurels folks, we still have a long way to go.

    • Schlukitz

      Good grief, people!

      You won the righ to get your ass shot-off in senseless foreign wars and the right to be as miserable as the next guy in marriage.

      What more to you want? *snark*

      • SockMikey

        I will *never* understand why you could be drafted previously at 18, but still unable to drink.

        I’m a non-drinker, but feel strongly that if a person is able to fight and die for their country, they should have the rights of an adult.

        I’m not advocating for lowering the drinking age, but rather pointing out the disconnect.

        • Schlukitz

          I got it.

          And, for the record, my thoughts were and are exactly the same as yours.

          Who writes these disconnected laws anyway?

  • uhhuhh

    Good riddance. This was Rosa Parks’ Griffin’s petulant tantrum when our longstanding groups assessed the situation and correctly told him that the Supreme Court was not ready to use Prop. 8 to nationalize gay marriage.

  • billbear1961

    Premature–you call yourselves the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Well, in 29 states those rights have NOT been won.

    One huge battle has been won; but discrimination, thinly disguised as “religious freedom,” will try to chip away at even THAT, and MANY battles remain.

    • uhhuhh

      Let them go. AFER was created like 5 years ago in a fit of spite because ACLU, Lambda, and others gave sound advice that Chad Griffin and other dilettantes didn’t want to hear.

      • billbear1961

        I suspect that most posters here understand the politics and in-fighting of these groups far better than I do!

        • uhhuhh

          It’s sad that there has even been such a thing as the in-fighting.

  • KnownDonorDad

    Meanwhile, NOM will keep squeezing every cent from its flock (and the big bucks from the three or so donors before they tire of flushing money down the toilet) long after their battle has been irrevocably lost.

  • Ginger Snap

    We win and we close down that office and move onto the next item on our list of freedom. They loose and dig in deeper and put forth their hate. There is a reason why winners have LOVE on their side.

  • Beagle


  • Keith Pullman

    I’m disappointed that AFER and FTM are shutting down. There is still much to do.

    1) There are still LGBT people in the US fighting for their right to marry. Not all LGBT people are monogamists, after all.

    2) Other countries need help, including from the US, to move towards marriage equality… or how about to get them to stop murdering people because they are LGBT?

    3) Marriages will need protection in legislatures, administrations, and courts. Even though a decision by the US Supreme Court should settle the matter in the US, there are still going to be attacks, foot-dragging, noncompliance, and all sorts of ways marriages will be denied equal treatment. Many people can testify that having specific civil rights legislation in place has not ensured everyone has their rights; vigilance is needed.

    4) Supreme Court decisions have been reversed before. A 5-4 decision isn’t a safe as we’d like to believe. A new President will be elected in 2016. Will the new President make the right appointments to the Court and lower courts?

    5) We need a federal Marriage Equality Amendment. Who better to lobby for it?

    Let’s keep going until every adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion is free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (and any of those without the others) with any and all consenting adults, without fear of prosecution, bullying, or discrimination.

    Reward the staff of those organizations for their success so far by keeping them employed in the work that’s still ahead.

  • sword

    So LGBT have the SAME rights as heteronormative people (NOT)? With marriage equality comes workplace, domicile, etc. non-discrimination?
    What naivete! There is going to be continuing decades of discrimination if ENDA is not passed.

    • goofy_joe

      There is nothing wrong with a Marriage organization to dissasemble when its goal has been reached. We still have EQCA and HRC and the other organizations that will be continuing the push for equality in this country. I think it’s admirable that they are doing this. They could have gone the way of FRC and the other side and continued to fear-monger and raise money…but they aren’t.

      This isn’t the end of the war, it’s just the end of the battle.

  • josephsinger

    AFER does not realize that freedom includes more than just freedom to marry. It also means freedom from being fired from your job for being gay or being denied a place to live just because you are gay or being denied a service (like a bakery or a florist) just because you are gay. AFER closing shop is a cop out to say the least.

  • josephsinger

    You are a fucking spammer. Go away.