September 15, 2015

Serving as the guardian of liberty and the protector of civil rights is a big job. It doesn’t have a short timeline or a narrow scope. It requires dedicated staff and volunteers willing to invest passion and purpose. It doesn’t stay confined by carefully drawn lines or definitions of political correctness. The job requires us, our clients, and our supporters to be a lot of things.

We have to be VIGILANT, always on the lookout for opportunities to challenge government overreach that threatens our liberty.

We have to be PERSISTENT. From Loving v. Virginia (1967), that ended bans on interracial marriage, to Harris v. Rainey (2014), that ended Virginia’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples, we have been unrelenting in our pursuit of the freedom to marry.

We have to be INNOVATIVE. We are working in a coalition that spans the political continuum from right to left focused on reforming an entire criminal justice system: addressing racial disparities in policing, militarization of police, and inadequate assistance of counsel for the indigent.

We have to be EFFECTIVE to ensure that law enforcement use of new technologies doesn’t lead to sacrifices of liberty in the name of security.

We have to be VOCAL as in our advocacy for abortion access, making our voice heard when legislators, local elected officials or regulators seek to legislate or regulate abortion out of existence.

We have to be PERSUASIVE as in advocating for changes in policies governing restoration of voting rights to former felons.

We have to be TRUSTED by the public and the media or we can’t be persuasive.

We and our clients have to be COURAGEOUS in taking on unpopular issues or causes, sometimes, in the case of our clients, at great personal cost or with the willingness to confront actual physical danger.

We have to be VISIONARY, always looking ahead to what our guardianship will require of us in the future.

At the ACLU of Virginia, we know that we need to be a lot of things to be successful. This annual report illustrates the impact of all the things we have been this year.

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