Civil rights lawyer Alphonso David has been named the new head of the largest US LGBT+ rights group, the Human Rights Campaign.
The incoming HRC President, who replaces long-serving activist Chad Griffin, is the first person of colour to lead the organisation in its 40-year history.
Alphonso David is well-qualified for the role, having led New York state’s civil rights division and previously serving as a staff attorney at pro-LGBT law firm Lamba Legal.
Alphonso David on being the gay, black son of refugees
He explained: “I became a civil rights lawyer defending LGBTQ people from discrimination, and over the last decade, I’ve worked to defend and protect the civil rights of millions of people across the state of New York.
“As the head of New York’s Office of Civil Rights, I helped lead the fight to win marriage equality in the Empire State; three years before the Supreme Court guaranteed that right to every American. We banned the abusive practice of ‘conversion therapy’ on minors, we protected transgender New Yorkers from discrimination, and enacted the nation’s most progressive policies to combat HIV and AIDS.”
Alphonso David is the new head of the Human Rights Campaign
Of his own experience coming to terms with his sexuality, he explained: “Eventually, I came to understand I wasn’t just a Black man, an immigrant and a child of refugees. I was also gay.
“It took me years to get to the point where I felt that I could look myself in the mirror and see a friend, and see value.
“I told my father on the telephone I was gay, and he got very, very angry, disowned me, and said, ‘I wish you were never born.’ [It] took him years to get there.”
Referencing attacks on LGBT+ people under the Trump administration, David added: “If we want to win full equality, that’s going to require us to come together, to dig deep, to be resilient, to embrace our differences, to tenaciously defend the most vulnerable among us, to fight with every ounce of determination we have.
“I promise you this, I will fight for each and every one of us. All I ask is that you join me, that you join the Human Rights Campaign in our fight for true equality. In unity, we will fight back and we will win.”
Human Rights Campaign praises incoming President
HRC Board Foundation Board Chair Deb Taft said: “Alphonso has devoted his career to expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people across New York State and the nation.
“At a time when LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, and so many others are being confronted with daily attacks on our most basic rights, Alphonso is the fierce, compassionate, and strategic leader HRC and our broader movement for equality needs.”
HRC Board Chair John Ruffier added: “As we approach the Human Rights Campaign’s 40th year and the most important election cycle of our lives in 2020, HRC has never been stronger or better positioned to lead.
“When it comes to maximising the electoral power of millions of LGBTQ voters and our allies, or to defending the fundamental rights of our community, or to protecting the most vulnerable among us, I know that Alphonso will ensure that HRC continues to lead the way.”
David will be the seventh president of the Human Rights Campaign, succeeding Chad Griffin, who has served since 2012. Below is David’s professional biography.