I joined the Brown Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in November 2011. I was a sophomore at Brown University, and the Brown chapter had been revitalized only months earlier after a period of inactivity. I decided to join after reading an announcement in the daily Morning Mail email sent out to every student email inbox. I had not known that the club existed, and as someone for whom civil liberties have always been important, the organization seemed like an obvious fit for me. I joined the ACLU because I wanted to take a more active role in advocating for the causes that are most important to me, including voting rights, privacy and LGBT equality. There is no other organization on Brown’s campus whose primary mission is to protect and defend the civil liberties of its students and of Rhode Islanders.
For me, the most significant lawsuit to which the ACLU has been a party is Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court distinction that struck down state bans on interracial marriage. The Court recognized then that the ability to enter into a relationship with the person one loves is a timeless and fundamental liberty, and that a government’s denial of recognition for such a relationship cannot be justified on constitutional grounds. “Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”
I would advise anyone considering joining the ACLU to reach out to the Rhode Island Chapter and find out about events and ways to become involved. Your level of financial and time commitments can be tailored to whatever needs your own individual circumstances require; membership is easy and inexpensive, and all of our support goes toward fighting the good fights.