ACLU and PFLAG To Speak at Monthly Meeting in Stillwater

Ryan Kiesel, incoming chief executive officer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, and Anthony Briggs, co-president of the local organization of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), will address issues of equality in our state at the Payne County Democrats regular monthly meeting on November 10, 2011 at 7 p.m.

Executive Director Ryan Kiesel will serve as the chief executive officer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, with primary responsibility for managing the day-to-day activities and operations of the organization, leading the fundraising, directing and coordinating the work of a professional staff, and serving as the primary spokesperson.

“It is an honor to be a part of an organization that relentlessly defends the rights of Oklahomans at the legislature, in communities large and small, and when necessary at the courthouse,” said Kiesel.

Prior to coming to the ACLU of Oklahoma, Kiesel, an attorney, served three terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004-10 where he was a strong voice in the defense of civil liberties and regularly debated against measures that limited reproductive rights, free speech, religious freedom, and the rights of the accused.

Kiesel said he applied for the position because the mission of the ACLU of Oklahoma reflects his attitude towards public service.

“You don’t have to look hard to find those who disagreed with many of the positions I took in the legislature, but I took those positions, however unpopular they may have been, because it was the right thing to do. The same can be said of the ACLU of Oklahoma; its course is not set by the prevailing political winds of the day, rather it is guided by a steadfast commitment to defending the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” said Kiesel.

Juanita Vasquez, ACLU of Oklahoma Board Member and Chair of the Search Committee, was pleased with the number and quality of applicants for the positions, “Many well qualified candidates were reviewed and interviewed. The Search Committee and voting board membership selected Mr. Kiesel as the best qualified for Executive Director and under his leadership we will continue to defend and protect the civil liberties of all Oklahomans.”

ACLU of Oklahoma Board President Randy Coyne said,”We are delighted that Mr. Kiesel has agreed to lead the preeminent civil liberties organization in the state. Although we received many outstanding applications for this position, I am convinced that Ryan’s professional experience, keen intellect, and commitment to justice for all make him uniquely qualified to spearhead the effort to insure that civil liberties in Oklahoma are not sacrificed on the altar of political expediency or diluted by misguided, fear-mongering government officials.”

The ACLU of Oklahoma is one of 53 affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, a national not-for-profit, non-partisan, voluntary organization founded in 1920. Its purpose is to protect those rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to due process of law and the right to equal protection under the law.

The Oklahoma affiliate was established in 1964 and opened its first headquarters in 1973.

The second speaker along the theme of equality for the evening of November 10 in the PCD Headquarters will be Anthony Briggs, co-president of the local organization of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Their mission is to promote the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through support; to cope with an adverse society; to educate and enlighten an ill-informed public; to advocate to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

The PFLAG organization supports and networks with the local Oklahoma State University SODA (Sexual Orientation Diversity Association). They also participate and have a booth at Lights on Stillwater welcoming and sharing with OSU students and members of the community. The PFLAG support group focus is on supporting, listening and sharing.

On November 10th, the Payne County Democrats will continue their quest to bring speakers to Stillwater focusing on the theme for the year of the Three E’s : Education, Economy, and Equality. Concerning education, the VP of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) gave a presentation in the Payne County Democratic Headquarters in September and in October fiscal policy expert David Blatt, one of the founders of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, made a presentation on the economic issues affecting Oklahoma. This Thursday equality will be the focus of two speakers from two organizations.

Doors open at the Payne County Democratic Headquarters, 302 N. Main, at 6:30pm. Presentations will begin at 7pm. All members of the public are highly urged to attend this uniquely informative event. More information is available online at paynecountydemocrats.org or call 405-533-5310.

About Dennis Whiteman

Dennis Whiteman is chair of the Payne County Democrats, located in Payne County, Oklahoma. He believes that Democrats must work together to take this country back from the tax cut and spend special interests who are destroying our country.