As the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the most prominent non-partisan social justice organisations in the US, Anthony Romero is the first Hispanic and the first openly gay person to assume the position.
“It’s always fun to flip the expectations of you on its head. I’m the first gay and the first Latino executive director of the ACLU, and I hire Bob Barr, author of the “Defense of Marriage Act” because he’s been incredibly helpful in getting us this kind of coalition of Republicans and individuals on the right who agree with us,” he said in an interview with New Politics. “That’s the power of the work that we do — it’s not about liberal or conservative, it’s not about Republican or Democrat, it’s not about immigrant or citizen, it’s just about everybody’s rights.”
Anthony became executive director of the organisation in September 2001, days before the terrorist attacks on September 11th.
The first member of his family to graduate from high school, he received a bachelor’s from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a JD degree from Stanford University Law School.
The ACLU has grown immensely under Anthony’s leadership. ACLU membership was around 300,000 for many years; it quickly grew to 550,000, according to Achievement.org. By 2007, the organisation’s annual budget was more than twice that of 2001, and its assets tripled. When Anthony took office, local affiliates received $6.5 million from the national office; by 2007, that figure had grown to $31 million. Anthony also assigned a full-time attorney in each state, which helped the organisation to expand its activities. He also created a new human rights programme and a division dedicated to privacy issues arising from surveillance technology.
Anthony co-authored In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror.
In 2005, he was named one of TIME’s 25 Most Influential Hispanics.Tags: Diversity and Inclusion, human rights, LGBTQ+