San Francisco, CA — A mother and father who founded a support organization for gay and lesbian Asian and Pacific Islander family members, an attorney who has provided award-winning legal defense for immigrants and minorities, and a champion of civil rights who began her decades-long career as a student in the 1970s were all honored at Chinese for Affirmative Action’s (CAA) 44th anniversary fundraiser on June 6.
“For 44 years, Chinese for Affirmative Action has been at the forefront of defending civil rights and promoting social justice. This evening it is our privilege to recognize and show our appreciation to individuals who inspire us to continue to challenge the status quo to advance equality and address challenges facing our community,” stated Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.
The honorees were: Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta of API Family Pride, Christopher Ho of Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, and Eva Paterson of Equal Justice Society.
The event was emceed once again by ABC7 reporter Alan Wang.
The Celebration of Justice is CAA’s largest annual fundraiser and brings together community leaders, activists, corporate supporters, and friends for a night of celebration and renewing commitment to social justice. Over 500 guests attend the Celebration of Justice each year, including prominent leaders in the Asian & Pacific Islander, civil rights, and political communities. Each year, CAA honors key civic and community leaders, as well as present speakers who are diverse in disciplines and perspectives.
The event was made possible through the generous support of CAA’s donors and supporters. CAA would especially like to recognize Laura Lai, Emily Lee, Emily Leung, Ricky Ho, Linda Ho, Rolland and Kathy Lowe for being the top sponsors of the 2013 Celebration of Justice.
ABOUT THE HONOREES:
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are co-founders of API Family Pride, an advocacy organization that works to win full acceptance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with special concern for supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with LGBT children and family members. Through lectures, panel discussions, programs, and workshops, API Family Pride has brought their message of love and justice throughout the U.S. and the world.
Belinda has often explained: “When children come out of the closet, their parents go in the closet.” Though she never considered rejecting her gay son, she admits going into a state of denial before learning what it meant and how to be fully supportive and accepting. As she better understood the many forms of discrimination and hate facing her son, she increasingly became a public advocate for full equality.
Belinda is also the co-founder of the Fremont / East Bay chapter of Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), PFGLAG’s National Families of Color Network, and the Committee to Assure Respect in Schools in the Fremont Unified School District.
Christopher Ho is a senior staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center where, as director of its National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights program, he advocates in defense of the rights of immigrant workers and language minority communities.
Over the past 15 years, his cases have set legal precedent establishing the right of undocumented workers to be protected from retaliation by employers who would report them to immigration authorities because they stood up for their legal rights; to receive compensatory and punitive damages for such retaliation; and to prevent employers from seeking information during litigation about workers’ immigration status.
Christopher is a graduate of Yale College and Stanford Law School, and is the recipient of a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for 2004. In 2006, the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area presented him with its Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy, and he received Stanford Law School’s Alumni Public Service Award in 2007. In 2010, La Raza Centro Legal recognized him for his advocacy on behalf of domestic workers.
Civil rights attorney Eva Jefferson Paterson is co-founder and President of the Equal Justice Society, a national strategy group focused on reclaiming the 14th Amendment and its Constitutional safeguards against discrimination.
Eva is also co-chair of the California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC), which she co-founded and previously chaired for 18 years. As co-chair of CCRC she was a leading spokesperson in the campaigns against Proposition 187 (anti-immigrant) and Proposition 209 (anti-affirmative action) and numerous other statewide campaigns against the death penalty, juvenile incarceration and discrimination against lesbians and gay men.
Eva previously served 13 years as Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. At the Lawyers’ Committee, she was part of a board that filed the groundbreaking anti-discrimination suit against race and gender discrimination by the San Francisco Fire Department. That lawsuit successfully desegregated the department, winning new opportunities for women and firefighters of color.
As a student leader in the 1970′s, Eva was catapulted into the national spotlight when she debated then-Vice President Spiro Agnew on live television. Dubbed the “peaceful warrior” for fostering non-violent protest in the aftermath of the 1970 shooting of student demonstrators at Kent State University, she was named one of Mademoiselle’s “Ten Young Women of the Year,” featured on the covers of Ebony and Jet, and called to testify before Congress.