The national chairman of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, the oldest civil rights group in America, is to join the Fairness for All Families Campaign.

Julian Bond, described as “an icon in the civil rights movement for nearly 50 years” and long time national Chairman of the NAACP, will serve on the honorary Board of the campaign.

He joins former US Attorney General Janet Reno on the board of Fairness for All Families, which was created to defeat the constitutional amendment, slated for the 2008 ballot, that could strip away employee benefits while barring the passage of measures to help Florida families.

The campaign is a coalition of more than 200 organisations and community leaders representing seniors, business leaders, consumer groups and social justice organisations.

They oppose moves by Florida4Marriage.org to gather petitions to put on the 2008 ballot the following constitutional amendment regarding civil marriage:

“This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognised.”

There is already a ban on same-sex marriage in Florida.

Last month state officials confirmed that Florida4Marriage.org had collected the 611,009 required signatures. The deadline is 29th January.

Mr Bond, who describes himself as a full-time Florida property owner and part-time Florida resident, urged voters to reject the mean-spirited measure by voting NO in November.

“It is divisive. It’s harmful. It does not bring people together. It drives them apart,” said Bond. The NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organisation in the United States.

From his days as a student organising to end segregation in the South to his current leadership of the NAACP, Julian Bond has been a frontline leader in the movements for civil rights and economic justice.

“The addition of Julian Bond to the Fairness for All Families Campaign comes at a time when newspaper editorial boards across the state are actively opposing the amendment and describing the harm to all unmarried Floridians including seniors, public employees and others who rely on domestic partnership benefits to protect their loved ones,” the campaign said today.

Julian Bond serves as Chairman of the Premier Auto Group PAG (Volvo, Land Rover, Aston-Martin, and Jaguar) Diversity Council and is on the Boards of People for the American Way, the Southern Poverty Law Centre and the Council for a Liveable World, and the advisory board of the Harvard Business School Initiative on Social Enterprise, among others.

In 2002, he received the prestigious National Freedom Award.

The holder of twenty-five honorary degrees, he is a Distinguished Professor at American University in Washington, DC, and a Professor in history at the University of Virginia.