“We will use Jon and Slo’s generosity to change the law and create a culture where discrimination against LGBTQ people is unfathomable. They understand that as long as LGBTQ people can be used as fodder for political attacks...that our entire community will be vulnerable to discrimination,” said James Esseks, director of the newly renamed LGBTQ & HIV Project.
“We need the resources to fight on all fronts — in the states and at the federal level, in courts and in communities, and that’s what Jon and Slo’s generosity will allow us to do,” Esseks said.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said that the two men have been “pioneering supporters of our LGBTQ rights work for years.”
“Alongside scores of funders and organizations as well as millions of activists and everyday LGBTQ people, Jon and Slo helped build the infrastructure that made marriage equality the law of the land, but they also understood that the fight for LGBTQ equality did not end there,” he said.
According to Romero, the two donors attended U.S. Supreme Court hearings to support Aimee Stephens, a transgender employee of a funeral home that sought to challenge the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal officials backed Stephens’ claims to have been wrongly fired by the funeral home for Stephens’ plans to dress as a woman.
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“Jon and Slo know that the battles for trans justice are more critical than ever,” Romero said. “The project will ensure that our fight for LGBTQ justice and equality will continue in the years ahead with energy and determination, as well as the resources needed to ensure success.”
In recent years the Arcus Foundation has increased spending on transgender advocacy and pro-transgender legal and cultural change, among other causes. This comes amid continuing controversy over transgender medical treatments for adults and minors, the place of transgendered athletes in women’s sports, and the suppression of criticism of transgender philosophical, scientific and political claims.
As CNA has previously reported, Arcus Foundation grantees have been linked to doctrinal and cultural change within the Episcopalian Church, the United Methodist Church and evangelical Protestantism. It helped fund pro-LGBT Episcopal Chicago Consultation. In 2011 and 2012, the Arcus Foundation provided financial support to raise the national profile of Center for American Progress’ expert V. Gene Robinson, whose controversial election as the Episcopalian Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 helped split the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion.