Lesbian Lawyer to Head Gay Rights Group

Article excerpt

A top Apple Computer lawyer has resigned to take command of the largest lesbian and gay rights organization in the country.

Elizabeth Birch, 38, head of litigation and human resources for Apple in Cupertino, Calif., was named Sunday as the new executive director of the Human Rights Campaign Fund in Washington. Birch is the first lesbian to hold the job.

The appointment was announced as the gay and lesbian political movement struggles to regroup to fight the onslaught they fear from the incoming Republican Senate and House.

The two-year window of opportunity opened by the election of the nation's first gay-friendly president has narrowed dramatically.

And it has changed before the movement was able to translate gains in support and public acceptance into solid power inside the Beltway, say some critics.

In an interview, Birch made clear that her first goal would be to counter any public perception of the gay movement as in retreat.

"My major point is that even in the midst of the largest Republican sweep in 20 years, Americans refused to institutionalize discrimination," said Birch, who will take over the Human Rights Campaign Fund in January. …