Freedom To Marry

The gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide

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Voices of Equality: Christine Chavez

Christine ChavezChristine Chavez has a made a lifetime commitment to public service, civil rights and the labor movement. Christine was born in Delano, California where she was surrounded by the farm worker movement.

Today, Christine works for the United Farm Workers of America, the union her grandfather Cesar Chavez helped to co-found 40 years ago. For the last eight years, she has served as the UFW's Political Director.

Based in East Los Angeles, Christine's responsibilities include raising public awareness to protect the civil rights of farm workers and the larger immigrant community. Over the last eight years, she has helped elect candidates, pass legislation and oversee public outreach activities. Latina Magazine recently named her as one of their top Latinas of 2004 for her longtime involvement with civil rights issues — in particular her recent work to give same sex couples to right to marry under the law.

Christine displayed a commitment to the labor movement at an early age. At the age of four in Detroit, during the grape boycott, she was arrested with her family for refusing to leave the front of a store that continued to sell grapes.

Chavez's commitment has extended to other unions. She was engaged in SEIU, Local 1877's battle against LAX. She fought in UNITE HERE Local 11's battle against the hotel industry. And she organized rallies in support of UFCW's protracted Southern California strike.

Every year, Christine oversees the annual Cesar Chavez Walk where over 10,000 people gather to honor the legacy of the great labor leader. She is responsible for mobilizing schools, colleges, unions, churches and community groups.

Recently Christine joined Rev. Al Sharpton to announce the formation of the Latino and African American Leadership Alliance. Troubled by the escalating violence between Latinos and African Americans, Chavez worked with the Reverend to organize a march to correspond with the Watts riots of 40 years ago. The Alliance will also sponsor community forums, outreach to schools and enlist the help of policymakers to further this important cause.

Christine resides in City Terrace with her husband Oscar Gonzalez. Her work is based on the values passed down to her from her grandfather... the fight for civil rights, social justice and labor equality.


"Educating key elected officials and local communities about the importance of LGBT rights were truly one of the most rewording and heart-felt experiences in my life," said Christine Chavez, former UFW California political director. "Currently, there are more Latino same-sex couples in California than in any other state. More than 40 percent of same-sex couples in California identify as Latino — with the vast majority raising children. And as we see the Latino population continuing to grow, we could see in the next 5-10 years Latino same-sex couples as the largest population of LGBT families in California that will be negatively affected by marriage discrimination."

"[N]o movement has ever succeeded without allies and coalitions. And as we look ahead, we must remember that the rights of the few should not be trumped by the will of the many. Time is on our side — on the right side of equality."

Beginning in the 1970s, before there was widespread public acceptance of the LGBT community, especially among Latinos, Cesar Chavez spoke out for LGBT rights. He attended rallies and marches, and would often wear a special button with the UFW eagle and the pink triangle. It remains today a symbol of solidarity, working with one another to make sure all people are treated with the same respect and dignity.

In 2005, along with 200 other organizations, the UFW took a stand to support Assembly Bill (AB) 849, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, authored by Assembly member Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and sponsored by Equality California. As part of Christine's long standing commitment to LGBT rights, she took a sabbatical from the UFW in 2005 to work with Equality California, Bienestar, the National Latina/o Coalition for Justice, the Los Angeles Latina/o Coalition for Justice, National Freedom to Marry, GLAAD's Regional and People of Color Programs, and other LGBT groups to educate local communities about the importance of LGBT rights and marriage equality in California. — Out in Lodi

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