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ACLU Appoints New Washington Office Director;
Laura Murphy Lee Takes Helm of Legislative Effort
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 1993
WASHINGTON -- With the goals of repairing the damages of the last 12
years and building partnerships with the new Administration and Congress
to gain new ground for civil liberties, Laura Murphy Lee has begun her
tenure as Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington
The appointment of Lee, the first woman and first African-American to
head the ACLU's Washington office, was made by Ira Glasser, the ACLU
Executive Director, who worked with her when she was an ACLU lobbyist in
the early 1980s.
"By accepting this position, Laura is `coming home,' and I am
delighted to have her back," Glasser said. "Our Washington office has a
history of substantial accomplishment and is now in a critical position to
continue to make an important difference."
In addition to her almost four years as legislative representative
with the ACLU in the early 1980's, Lee served as Director of Development
and Planned Giving for the ACLU's Southern California Affiliate and later
as a Board member of two ACLU affiliates. She was also on the staffs of
Congressman Parren J. Mitchell and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Most
recently, Lee was Director of Tourism for DC Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly.
Lee takes over the Washington office after its former Director,
Morton Halperin, joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Halperin has since been nominated by the Clinton Administration to be
Assistant Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights in the Defense
In the early months of her tenure, Lee said, she will work with the
staff of the Washington office, which includes more than 12 legislative
representatives and other professional staff members, to establish long-
and short-term priorities. "While we now have enormous opportunities," she
said, "we also face stiff challenges from Congress in areas such as crime
legislation and ending the military's ban on lesbians and gay men.
"In this time of scarce resources among public interest
organizations," Lee added, "we need to set our priorities and pick our
In addition to continuing the ACLU's work on crime legislation and
the military ban, Lee said that the ACLU Washington office will closely
monitor the Administration's health care reform proposals to insure that
they continue to protect the privacy of patients and other consumers of
health care insurance. The office will also help coordinate the campaign
to grant statehood to the District of Columbia, and to implement the
comprehensive, 175-page proposal for change submitted to the Clinton
Other priorities include working to guarantee reproductive rights for
all women, including the young and the poor, and scrutinizing various
lobbying and campaign reform proposals to insure that they do not conflict
with First Amendment guarantees.
Lee also will work to restore funding to various civil rights
enforcement agencies that had been gutted by the Reagan and Bush
Administrations. "In the last 12 years, this country has seen its
infrastructure of civil rights enforcement dismantled and disabled," Lee
said. "We need to work with the Clinton Administration to insure that they
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