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BREAKING NEWS: Chad Griffin of AFER to replace Joe Solmonese as HRC leader

WASHINGTON -- Chad Griffin, a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), today was named president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Griffin, one of the faces of AFER, the sole sponsor of the Proposition 8 lawsuit, will replace the outgoing Joe Solmonese on June 11. Solmonese will become involved in the re-election efforts for President Barack Obama.

"We’re ecstatic to have someone of Chad’s caliber as our next president. His superior credentials and achievements, both as a visionary and strategist, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization forward," HRC co-chair Tim Downing and HRC Foundation co-chair Sandra Hartness said in a joint statement.

"Chad has a proven track record of consistently delivering results during his career. That’s something that our community rightly expects and deserves.”

Griffin is known as a national communications and policy strategist. He is a veteran of the Clinton White House communications team, and hails from Arkansas.

Many credit Griffin for recruiting the legal dream team of Ted Olson and David Boies to successful argue the Prop 8 case. Both a district court judge and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, but the case remains tied up in the appeals process.

HRC conducted a six-month search to find a replacement for Sollmonese, and more than 100 people applied for the position representing business, academia and activism.

Griffin said he is highly motivated by young people in taking on his new role.

“All over this country in big cities and small towns, there are families and young people who long to be accepted for who they are, and who want be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else," Griffin said.

"I’m honored by the board’s confidence in my ability to lead HRC. While there’s no doubt that we’ve made tremendous progress on the road to equality, we must not forget that millions of LGBT Americans still lack basic legal protections and suffer the consequences of discrimination every day," he said.

"Today's generation of young people, and each generation hereafter, must grow up with the full and equal protection of our laws, and finally be free to participate in the American dream. As HRC president, I’ll approach our work with a great sense of urgency because there are real life consequences to inaction.”

HRC consists of two separate non-profit organizations: the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on research, advocacy and education' and the Human Rights Campaign, a 501(c)(4) organization that focuses on lobbying Congress, state and local officials for support of pro-LGBT bills, and mobilizing grassroots action among its members.

The combined annual budget of both organizations was about $40 million in 2011.

AFER reacts to Griffin's news

AFER officials were happy for Griffin, who will remain on its board of directors.

“I cannot think of anyone better to take the helm of the Human Rights Campaign than my dear friend and colleague Chad Griffin,” AFER lead co-counsel Theodore B. Olson said. “There is no one more passionate, more resourceful or more effective than Chad. His brilliant and visionary leadership makes me confident that one day, very soon, every American will be treated equally under the law. HRC is extraordinarily lucky to have him.”

“Time after time over the past several years, Chad has proven that he is easily one of the most skilled strategists and tacticians in American politics today,” AFER lead co-counsel David Boies said. “That is a rare combination of skill sets for one person to have. His diplomacy, his intellect and his passion for issues of equality are second to none. I cannot think of a better person to lead HRC into the future.”

“The federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, Perry v. Brown, would never have happened without the vision and tenacity of my dear friend Chad Griffin,” AFER founding board member Rob Reiner said. “His incomparable leadership has brought us one step closer toward completing America’s last great civil rights struggle. My congratulations go out to Chad on this great honor and to the Human Rights Campaign for picking a brilliant leader as its next president.”

“Chad is a visionary leader who not only dreams the impossible, but also accomplishes it,” AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer said. “His bold determination to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court combined with his ability to transcend partisan and ideological boundaries have forever changed the way the nation thinks about equality for LGBT Americans. There is no better person than Chad Griffin to lead the Human Rights Campaign and their millions of supporters.”