My mother, who is Chinese American, was only able to marry my father, who is English and Irish American, because in 1948 the California Supreme Court became the first state supreme court in the nation to overturn a ban on interracial couples marrying. My mother still remembers the day when one of her friends in the Chinese Students Club at U.C. Berkeley had to leave the state to marry her white fiancée a few years before the Court’s decision. My mom's friend literally had to run from the law to marry the person she loved, simply because they were of different races.
In its historic 1948 decision, Perez v. Sharp, the California Supreme Court held that each citizen’s fundamental constitutional right to marry was really no right at all, unless it meant the freedom to “marry the person of one’s choice.” My parents married in the International House at Berkeley, the very same place they'd met. But as they moved to other states, they found that each state’s laws treated their marriage differently simply because of their races. While looking for a house in Missouri, they learned that Missouri law prohibited marriage between whites and “negroes” or “Mongolians,” the term then used for most Asian Americans.
When I was growing up, my parents didn't discuss these discriminatory laws over the dinner table. But it wasn’t until 1967 that the US Supreme Court overturned all such laws nationwide in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case. The court declared marriage is one of the “basic rights of man.”
My mother, John, and I flew to Washington, DC together as a family for events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Loving decision. My mother spoke out at the Capitol for the rights of all loving couples to wed, including her own son and son-in-law. Mildred Loving, who brought the historic lawsuit before the United States Supreme Court, stated that “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.”
When John and I were able to legally marry in 2008, surrounded by our family and friends, it was a dream come true. As we exchanged vows and were pronounced spouses for life, we felt that for the first time in our lives that our government was treating us equally under the law, and treating our relationship with full dignity and respect. The day was so transformative that we have committed to do everything we can to secure the freedom to marry for all.
Having my mom and dad there beside us, witnessing the next generation in our family achieving marriage equality, was the best wedding gift of all. Marriage equality is a family tradition.
Stuart Gaffney is the MEUSA Communications Director, and his husband John Lewis is the MEUSA Director of Legal & Policy.
The photo displayed is from Stuart and John's legal wedding in June 2013, following the SOCTUS decision that upheld a lower court's ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, thus renewing marriage equality in California. The couple is shown here with their respective parents in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall.
At the heart of MEUSA lie a handful of founding volunteers who have navigated the bumpy ride that has been the marriage equality movement for over a decade. John Lewis, MEUSA’s Legal and Policy Director, is one such MEUSA volunteer.
Molly McKay Williams, the former Executive Director of Marriage Equality California, and the woman who first recruited John and his husband Stuart as spokespeople and leaders for the marriage equality movement back in 2004, says, "Part of the joy of this work is doing it with people you love and admire. I love and admire John for his generous spirit; his deep, searching, introspective personality; and his great sense of humor. Our experiences in this movement, the highs and the lows, will be some of my most treasured life experiences."
With the United States Supreme Court’s recent historic, nationwide, marriage equality decision, John considers the two Amicus (friend of the court) briefs* he filed on behalf of MEUSA in the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court cases to be highlights of his last few years with the organization. “Creating and filing these briefs was so rewarding because we applied MEUSA’s mission to empower people to tell their own stories and advocate in their own voices to the appellate legal setting, which is often detached from authentic human experience. In our briefs, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans and their families spoke directly to the Justices and expressed in their own words why the liberty and equality guarantees of the Constitution should apply to us. We used these voices to make the legal argument for marriage equality. We were gratified when Justice Kennedy in both his 2013 and 2015 opinions wrote in very human terms about the importance of equality under the law,” says John.
John also considers moderating the MEUSA National Community Calls a highlight of his MEUSA involvement in recent years. “I’ve greatly enjoyed moderating the community calls that MEUSA has hosted after every appellate marriage equality hearing over the last few years. We always invite attorneys and activists from the states involved to participate. We have a robust and lively conversation with lots of questions and back and forth. I am always impressed with the level of commitment and insight that so many of the people who call in have.”
David B. Cruz, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and a legal expert who participated on several MEUSA National Community Calls, noted, "John’s contributions as moderator for MEUSA’s community calls have been invaluable. He displays a knack for posing questions in ways that go to the core of the issues, prompt speakers to give answers both accessible and precise, and help the country better understand the extraordinary developments MEUSA has been chronicling. His ability to contribute substantive information to those calls boosts his great value to the organization."
John and his husband, Stuart Gaffney, became involved in the movement when San Francisco started granting marriage licenses a full, three months before Massachusetts became the first state to usher in marriage equality on a permanent basis. “We began working with Marriage Equality USA through Marriage Equality California on February 12, 2004, the day we showed up for a rally to support marriage equality and arrived at the steps of San Francisco City Hall the very first hour that San Francisco opened the door to all loving, committed couples to marry. Because we showed up to get involved, we were one of the first ten couples of over 4,000 that married in San Francisco during San Francisco's so-called ‘Winter of Love.’ We've been working with Marriage Equality USA ever since,” says John.
“However, our marriage and those of over 4,000 other couples were taken away six months later when the California Supreme Court ruled that San Francisco could not issue the licenses on its own. We then joined the ongoing lawsuit with other couples and the City of San Francisco, arguing that California's ban on marriage for same-sex couples violated the state constitution. In May, 2008, we all won a tremendous victory and Stuart and I and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in California before Proposition 8 passed in November 2008.”
It was their first marriage ceremony, the one that would later be invalidated, that propelled the couple to advocacy. “On February 12, 2004, when we heard the words ‘by virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of California, I pronounce you spouses for life,’ we felt something transform within us,” John says. “We felt for the first time in our lives our government treating us as equal human beings as LGBT people. That experience changed everything for us. We realized that we had always thought that somehow as LGBT people we would always be treated as not quite equal. At that moment, we committed to doing everything in our power to make the dignity that comes with our government treating us as fully equal human beings a lasting reality for LGBTQ people.”
“Although that marriage was taken away from us,” John says, “there was no turning back. And that's where Marriage Equality USA came in. We joined thousands of others working with the organization because the organization's mission was to enable people directly affected by marriage discrimination to advocate in their own voices as they best see fit why equality is crucial. We have immensely enjoyed lending our voice and helping others tell their stories and share their voices with the world.”
Like many same-gender couples who married immediately upon legalization, John and Stuart had already lived nearly two decades as a married couple in every sense of the term — other than legal recognition. “We met 28 years ago and,” says, John, “from the day we met, we always wanted a lasting, committed relationship. But back then, marriage appeared as something that we as LGBTQ people would never have access to. Marriage would always be for someone else, and we would always be in the audience attending someone else's wedding.”
John’s sense of the injustices perpetrated by lack of legal recognition of same gender marriages grew steadily over time. “As the years went by together, we became increasingly aware of the many legal protections that come with marriage and we became increasingly upset that we were deprived of these. We asked, ‘why would we not have spousal social security benefits upon retirement? Why are we paying thousands of dollars more in taxes just because we were gay?’ We were encouraged by, and took part in, various domestic partner benefits that became available. But then we realized that full marriage equality was something that rightfully belonged to LGBTQ people.”
John’s MEUSA volunteer activities have extended far beyond the legal and policy realms to include core, “press-the-flesh” events for the public. Among the most memorable, according to John, was the 2004 National Marriage Equality Express Caravan from coast to coast -- San Francisco to Washington DC. “We and other activists shared our personal stories in places like Cheyenne, Wyoming, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, culminating with a national rally at the U.S. Capitol. “It was a wonderful experience to connect to LGBT communities all across the country and to help educate the public in places that had little familiarity with marriage equality.”
The “Decline to Sign Campaign,” to try to prevent Prop. 8 from going on the 2008 California ballot, was another activity that stands out in John’s memory. “We, and many other courageous, LGBTQ people, stood aside paid signature gatherers in the Central Valley of California to tell Californians about our lives and to explain to them why they should not support an initiative measure that would take away the freedom of LGBTQ people to marry in California. Although Prop. 8 made the ballot and passed, I am very proud of how Marriage Equality USA volunteers skillfully stood up for the lives of LGBTQ people under sometimes very hostile conditions. Marriage Equality USA volunteers were a paragon of nonviolent strength and resistance.”
John’s advocacy work has also extended beyond US borders. He says, “Partnering with Asian Pacific Island Equality and the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, we created the first ever marriage equality floats in the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. As my husband Stuart is mixed race Chinese American, we were honored to present our lives along with the lives of other members of the LGBT API community to the world through the parade, which is broadcast worldwide, especially in Asia. The collaboration, skill and sensitivity that API Equality, GAPA, and Marriage Equality USA brought to this project was exemplary.”
Over the last two years, John (along with Stuart) has taken MEUSA's message to Japan. “We presented the organization's work at universities and at meetings with Japanese LGBTQ leaders, with whom we are now collaborating. We also participated in historic marriage equality events as representatives of Marriage Equality USA at Pink Dot Okinawa.”
Pondering what comes next in the marriage equality movement, now that we have a favorable Supreme Court decision, John says, “We have always considered the movement for marriage equality as one integral component of the movement for full LGBTQ equality in all aspects of our lives. We know we will continue to work for full LGBTQ equality. We also feel strongly that we should not consider our marriage equality efforts complete upon winning equality in the United States. The LGBTQ movement is a worldwide movement and we look forward to the possibility of working with LGBTQ advocates in other countries establishing marriage equality in many other places around the globe.”
With just under 10% of the nations in the world now embracing marriage equality, the notion of worldwide marriage equality might appear, at first glance, almost as far-fetched as the idea marriage equality in California seemed a short, 10-years ago. Yet, if John finds the possibility of worldwide marriage equality seemingly, dauntingly improbable, he does not show it.
#1 March 2015, John Lewis crafting the MEUSA Obergefell Amicus Brief, taken by Stuart Gaffney. From MEUSA News Blog post, MEUSA Amicus Brief: Real Voices, Real People, Real Impact, by John Lewis, 9 March 2015.
#2 Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis, Winter of Love marriage at San Francisco City Hall, 12 February 2004, from Gaffney/Lewis private collection.
#3 Molly McKay, Davina Kotulski, John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, MECA Marriage Equality Express Caravan. Photo by Mike Kepka, The San Francisco Chronicle, 15 October 2004.
#4 Image of No on 8 sign, MEUSA archives.
#5 John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney at Pink Dot Pride in Okinawa, from MEUSA News Blog post Love Around the World, by Stuart Gaffney, 7 August 2014.
The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges establishing nationwide marriage equality will likely go down in history as one of the Court’s great landmark rulings. The Court’s opinion not only embraces liberty and marriage equality for LGBTQ Americans but reaffirms the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy. Although the opinion often uses terms such as “gays and lesbians” or “same-sex” couples and discusses sexual orientation, the Court’s holding brings marriage equality to all LGBTQ people and significantly advances the goals of freedom and equality in all aspects of our lives.
The opinion begins by articulating the core American value of personal freedom: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty … to define and express their identity.” The Court then explained how the Constitution is not shipwrecked in the 18th century but lives today to protect Americans’ freedom and equality. In the Court’s words: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”
The Court implicitly recognized the importance of decades of LGBTQ activism in creating change, explaining that “new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new genera¬tions, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.”
The Court then held that laws that exclude LGBTQ couples from marriage “burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and … abridge central precepts of equality.” Such laws “are in essence unequal: same-sex couples are denied all the benefits afforded to opposite-sex couples and are barred from exer¬cising a fundamental right.”
The Court affirmed that two people “whatever their sexual orientation” may form an “enduring bond” in marriage and that can lead to greater “expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” Further, “gays and lesbians can create loving, supportive families,” and indeed “hundreds of thousands of chil¬dren are presently being raised by [same-sex] couples” in “loving and nurturing homes ….” Put simply, the Court stated, “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to” these core matters. Yet same-sex marriage bans undermine the dignity of LGBTQ families, “harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples,” and “consign” same-sex couples “to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives.”
In explaining its decision, the Court emphasized the horrible isolation that LGBTQ Americans have had to endure historically. In the Court’s words, for long “[a] truthful declaration by same-sex couples of what was in their hearts had to remain unspoken,” and for years“[s]ame-sex intimacy” was criminal in many states. The opinion refers to how historically many LGBTQ people had been “con¬demned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civiliza¬tion’s oldest institutions,” marriage. The Court further noted that “[g]ays and lesbians were prohibited from most government employment, barred from military service, excluded under immigration laws, targeted by police, and burdened in their rights to associate.”
The Court spoke of the destructive nature of such prejudice and discrimination. “Especially against a long history of disapproval of [same-sex] relationships, [the] denial … of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them.“
The tone of the opinion is strikingly vivid, emotionally intelligent, and personal. We and many others have experienced a profound sense of dignity and pride at no longer being second-class citizens when it comes to marriage, but the Court also acknowledged how painful and lasting the human toll of disparagement and isolation is. In the Court’s words, “wounds [to our human dignity] cannot always be healed with the stroke of a pen.” In describing the limited benefit of incremental victories, such as decriminalization of same-sex love, the Court observed: “Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty.”
The opinion will significantly bolster future cases challenging sexual orientation discrimination because the Court recognized the harmful effect of inequality on all lesbian and gay people, not just those in relationships. The Court held that the “exclusion” from marriage “has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society.” Denying LGBTQ people the right to marry “disparage[s] their choices and diminish[es] their personhood ….”
In its opinion, the Court also recognized explicitly for the first time that homosexual orientation is healthy and unalterable, observing how “psychiatrists and others [have now] recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.” Although long obvious to millions of Americans and to every professional psychological or medical association, the Court’s recognition of these facts is very important to assuring success in future cases challenging unequal treatment based on sexual orientation.
The Court’s opinion essentially recognized the crime of Proposition 8 and all the other statewide measures that targeted LGBTQ Americans to deprive of them of marriage equality and their basic human dignity. The Court did so by reasserting the central role of the Bill of Rights in our constitutional democracy. The opinion reassures all Americans that “[t]he Nation’s courts are open to in¬jured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter. An individual can invoke a right to constitutional protection when he or she is harmed, even if the broader public disagrees and even if the legislature refuses to act.” In the words of the Court, “[t]he idea of the Constitution ‘was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials ….’ This is why ‘fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.’”
We could say many other things about the importance of this historic decision, but for now we conclude with the last two lines of the opinion itself. By seeking marriage equality, LGBTQ people “ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
John Lewis is an attorney and is the MEUSA Legal & Policy Director. John and his husband Stuart Gaffney were plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008.
Read the Amicus Brief, authored by John Lewis, MEUSA submitted for the Obergefell case.
We are thrilled with the June 26 marriage opinion from U.S. Supreme Court!
We will host a national SCOTUS Ruling Community Call on Tuesday evening, 30 June 2015 to discuss the ruling and what it means. Your questions are welcomed!
Participants on the call will be: Kathleen Perrin, Director, Equality Case Files; David Cruz, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Southern California School of Law; and host John Lewis, Director of Legal and Policy, Marriage Equality USA. The call will be moderated by Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s observation during the Supreme Court marriage equality hearings about the importance of the evolution of marriage under the law from “a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female” to an “egalitarian” institution really struck me. From a political perspective, Ginsburg’s comments highlight the continuing importance of the women’s movement to equality for all people, especially LGBT people. Discrimination and prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are in many ways rooted in sex discrimination – and stereotyped and fixed notions of gender. The enormous progress toward eliminating sex discrimination under the law (still an unfinished business) has been instrumental to gains for LGBT rights. None of this progress took place by accident; it came about through the bravery, determination, struggle, and support of millions of people. It was on a personal basis that Justice Ginsburg’s statements really hit home. I grew up with a mother and a father who lived the struggle as they married in the 1950s and attempted to forge a marriage of equals in a society openly hostile to such aspirations.
My mother was born in 1922 into a family who hailed from small town North Carolina. My mother did what good little middle class girls were supposed to do at the time: read books, study, and imagine life as a schoolteacher, then as a mother. However, when my mother pranced into the kitchen as a little girl to help my grandmother cook, my grandmother, frustrated by her own limited opportunities in life, commanded my mother back to her room to study. My mother did just that and read and studied – a lot. By the early 1950s, my mother had received her PhD, completed a fellowship at a prestigious academic institution in Europe, written a book, and become a professor at a major American research university.
My mother met my father at the university soon after she began teaching, and they had the then radical notion that they each could have successful academic jobs and raise children, too. But it was not to be. My mother’s department at the university told her not even to think about getting tenure (and thus job security) because they did not offer such things to women. Such discrimination meant that my parents followed my dad’s career to support the family, and my mother dutifully attempted to stay home to raise me and my brother. My mother, who just a few years earlier had been working abroad with some of her field’s leading scholars, found herself confined to a tiny house in a bleak suburb with two small children. She hated it, and the isolation and lack of stimulation were stifling to her.
We moved to another city to follow a job for my father, and when my brother and I were school age, my mother along with a colleague became the first two full-time female faculty members at a local college. She again faced open discrimination. The college told her that they paid women less than their male counterparts because men needed the income to support their families whereas women’s income was merely supplemental. At the time, there was no Title VII or anything else that made such blatant wage discrimination illegal. My dad was willing to give up his job, which he loved, to relocate where my mother could find a better position, but wage discrimination, the fact that my mother’s field of Classics was dwindling at the time, and the number of years she had been removed from scholarship in the field, all rendered efforts unavailing.
Decades later my mother mailed my brother and me a short excerpt from the graduation speech that the early feminist M. Carey Thomas, founder of Bryn Mawr College (where my mother received her PhD), delivered in 1922, the year my mother was born. Thomas exhorted the all female graduating class: Women -- “if you want to marry, marry, but do so with a clear understanding with your husband on the conditions of your marriage, with the understanding that you are to go on with your job.... Women often disappoint me very much by not amounting to something themselves and giving up everything for a pair of stupid little children who might not amount to anything."
The directness of Thomas’ admonition struck my mother, and my mother couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun at my brother and me by implying in jest that we might be “a pair of stupid little children” who didn’t amount to anything. Although my dad was completely supportive of my mother, Thomas’ anticipation of the struggle my mother would face was prescient.
Several years after my mother passed away, I visited my dad at a retirement community about a year before he died. We were having dinner with some obviously conservative fellow residents, and my dad proudly proclaimed that his wife was “a radical feminist.” Although my mother had never used the term to describe herself, I believe he used it because he took great pride in her accomplishments and he knew how much she struggled. I have always wished my mother had been able to fulfill her dreams, but I know my brother and I benefited enormously from growing up with her and my father. We experienced the struggle for gender equality as part of our upbringing and learned the human cost of sex discrimination first hand. We learned directly how gender should not define a person and that the law should enable people to pursue their dreams without regard to gender or any external factor of who you are. We look to the Supreme Court to take a giant step forward to realizing that vision of equality later this month.
John Lewis is an attorney and is the MEUSA Legal & Policy Director. John and his husband Stuart Gaffney were plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008.
First photo: Ruth Bader Ginsburg by AP, courtesy of Politico 2013-05-11.
Second, third and fourth photos: Ms. Lewis, courtesy of John Lewis private collection.
Fifth photo: Anarchy Feminism graphic courtesy of Platform505.com, "The Thinking Woman's Website."
On our recent trip to Japan to speak on LGBTQ rights for Marriage Equality USA, we had the honor of addressing the crowd at Pink Dot Okinawa, a wonderful event with over 1,000 attendees who were treated to music, dance, speeches, and a beautiful marriage ceremony for Kazuki and Harold -- when the happy couple exchanged vows there was not a dry eye in the crowd.
Kazuki is from Okinawa, while Harold is American -- because they met during the days of DOMA they had to go into exile in order to be together. Luckily they were able to find work, live and marry in Canada. During that time, Kazuki's family back in Japan was not accepting of their relationship, but over the years their love has prevailed. An emotional highlight of Pink Dot Okinawa was the reading of a touching letter written by Kazuki's mother to celebrate the love of her son and son-in-law and to express her wishes for their happiness as a married couple.
Amazing events don't happen by themselves, and Pink Dot Okinawa is no exception -- it is the brainchild of Hideki Sunagawa, an activist and HIV/AIDS community worker for over a quarter century and one of the founders of Tokyo Pride. Hideki is also an academic with a PhD in cultural anthropology, and he brings that wisdom to his activism. In Hideki's own words:
"Though at this point in time Japan provides no legal recognition or protection for same-sex couples, we have reached a point where more and more same-sex couples are holding ceremonies like their heterosexual counterparts. Many gays and lesbians have been encouraged by these open and public celebrations of love and devotion, and as a result feel far more hopeful about building a future with their partners. ...the truth is that in Japan, most LGBTQ people with life partners do not or feel as if they cannot introduce them to their families. As such, I’ve come to think that by holding a public ceremony here in Kazuki’ s birthplace of Okinawa, we may be able to provide some hope for both those in the audience and Okinawa’ s local LGBTQ community in general. ... it is our belief that this event will not only allow the people of Okinawa to put faces to the idea of a same-sex couple, but also help to lay a groundwork for other such ceremonies throughout Japan."
This dream became a reality at Pink Dot Okinawa 2014 because of Hideki and an amazing team of hard-working and fun-loving volunteers who created a loving space in the central square of Naha, Okinawa. There are too many wonderful people we met there to name everyone individually, but we were inspired by the tireless efforts of Norito Irei who was with us from beginning to end, even introduced us to Okinawan cuisine, and then joined us for a presentation the following day at Okinawa University where he spoke movingly about his own experience growing up gay in Okinawa and what it’s like coming out there and in the United States.
Pink Dot started in Singapore and now includes events for LGBTQ acceptance around the world in places as diverse as Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Montreal, and Salt Lake City. Our trip to Japan and the experience of Pink Dot Okinawa has filled us with hope in the power of love to create change around the world.
By MEUSA National Media Director Stuart Gaffney and MEUSA Director of Legal & Policy John Lewis
John Lewis graduated in the top ten percent of his class from Stanford Law School in 1986, where he was awarded the Steven M. Block Award for writing on Civil Liberties. After clerking for the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson of the Northern District of California Federal Court, he practiced civil rights, public policy, and constitutional law.
John and his husband, Stuart Gaffney, were plaintiffs in the landmark California legal case In Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008), that established broad constitutional protections for lesbian and gay people and the freedom to marry in California before Proposition 8.
John is a member of the State Bar of California. John provides legal analyses of marriage equality-related court case proceedings, judicial decisions, and legislation to Marriage Equality USA leaders and members.
Additionally, John works with his husband, Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA's Communications Director, as a media resource and public spokesperson for the organization. John is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, is a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times and writes for other publications as well. John authored an amicus brief that MEUSA submitted to the United States Supreme Court in February 2013.
Interesting fact: John worked in a refugee camp in the Philippines for Southeast Asian refugees in the early 1980's.