Leading gay rights advocate to speak at UF
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The former director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, will speak Jan. 30 at the University of Florida.
Elizabeth Birch’s speech, titled “Where Are We Now: Civil Rights for Gays,” starts at 8 p.m. in the Reitz Student Union Grand Ballroom.
Under Birch’s leadership, membership in the HRC more than quadrupled to 500,000. The HRC also became known nationwide for its professionalism and cutting-edge advocacy techniques. During her tenure, Birch built the organization from the grassroots into the modern corporate model with a senior management team and 100-person staff. She previously served as worldwide director of litigation for Apple Computer Inc. and general counsel to Claris Corp., Apple’s software subsidiary. In addition, she has helped various Fortune 500 companies develop and implement nondiscrimination and domestic partner benefits.
“I look forward to joining many other members of the UF community, who represent a wide range of viewpoints on LGBT civil rights, at this exciting upcoming event,” said Tamara Cohen, director of LGBT affairs at UF. “The opportunity to learn from and be in dialogue with, one of the national leaders of the LGBT civil rights movement, is one that should not be missed by anyone interested in one of the big issues of our time.”
In 2002, Birch received one of the highest civil rights honors in the country from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which is a coalition of 186 progressive organizations that include the NAACP, Catholic Charities and many more.
In 2003, UF became the first Florida university to add sexual orientation protections to its discrimination policy. Last month, UF became the only public university in the state to extend health benefits to unmarried couples and same-sex partners.