Opponent of Anti-Gay Military Policy to Give Civil Rights Address

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Judge Abner Mikva is keynote speaker for Bon Foster Memorial Event on October 12
September 27, 2001

(CHICAGO, September 27, 2001) — As a federal appeals court judge, Abner Mikva once struck down the military’s anti-gay policy; soon he will be the keynote speaker for the Bon Foster Memorial Civil Rights Address sponsored by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Judge Mikva will address hundreds of Lambda supporters on Friday, October 12 at the Inter-Continental Chicago. Chicago’s Mayor, the Honorable Richard M. Daley, is the event’s honorary co-chair.

As chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Judge Mikva wrote the court’s decision rejecting the military’s anti-gay policy in 1993. Unfortunately, his ruling in the case of Joseph Steffan, Lambda’s client in Steffan v. Aspin, was overturned after a rehearing before the full court.

The Bon Foster Address traditionally places the lesbian and gay civil rights movement within the broader spectrum of civil rights struggles taking place across the nation. Named in honor of Bon Foster, a Chicago attorney who died of AIDS in 1991, and whose generosity aided creation of Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office, the event draws representatives from the area’s major law firms, corporations, community organizations, and other supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Before serving for three years on the federal appeals bench, Mikva was a five-term Illinois congressman and an Illinois state legislator. He was White House Counsel from 1994 to 1995 and currently is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches “Law of the Executive Branch.”

Lambda Executive Director Kevin M. Cathcart said, “Judge Mikva’s extensive career is unique, not only for including all three branches of government but for the courageous vision he has applied to that work. Just as previous Bon Foster keynote speakers like Coretta Scott King have in the past, he brings an important voice to the discussion about civil rights that America must pursue.”

He added, “It is a tribute to Lambda that a prestigious public servant like Judge Mikva will share his civil rights perspectives at our gathering.”

Previously held as an annual luncheon, this year’s Bon Foster Address is Lambda’s first-ever dinner event in Chicago. Already over twenty law firms and corporations have signed on as sponsors for this year’s event.

Lambda is the oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to civil rights for lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS. With headquarters in New York, it has regional offices in Los Angeles and Atlanta as well as Chicago and will open a Dallas office in 2002.

WHAT: Bon Foster Memorial Civil Rights Address & Dinner WHO: Judge Abner Mikva, keynote speaker and Mayor Richard M. Daley, honorary co-chair WHERE: Inter-Continental Chicago, 505 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago WHEN: Friday, October 12, 6:00 p.m. TICKETS: Tickets begin at $200. For reservations, call Lambda at 312-663-4413 x 28; (Media: must RSVP by October 5; media members who wish can be seated for dinner at a cost of $125)



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