LGBT issues

  • October 17, 2017

    by Dan Froomkin

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a perplexingly contradictory view of civil rights law when it comes to transgendered people.

    On the one hand, he is enthusiastic about prosecuting murder cases in which the victims were allegedly targeted because of their gender identity. On the other hand, he went out of his way to give employers a green light to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace; rejected the Obama administration interpretation that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice;  and defended Donald Trump's half-baked tweet in favor of banning transgender troops.

    The backtracks on transgender protections are among several stark and abrupt reversals from practices during the Obama era that have come under Sessions's watch. One on level, that's not so surprising, coming from the attorney general for a president who on Monday described himself, accurately, as "very opposite" from his predecessor.

  • September 14, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School

    *This piece was originally posted on Stanford Law School Blog

    Edie Windsor had a signature set of pearls and a signature set of advice: “Don’t postpone joy” and “Keep it hot.” In the five years I knew her, no one followed that advice more resolutely.

    I began working on Edie’s challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on July 4, 2012, when Robbie Kaplan, who was representing her, sent me an email asking if I was interested in helping out. We often say about the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic (which I co-direct with Jeff Fisher) that we serve as local counsel, only our locale is the U.S. Supreme Court. Robbie brought me in to help with a petition for cert. before judgment; Edie was 83 years old and there was then no telling how long proceedings in the Second Circuit might take. (As it turned out, the Second Circuit issued a ruling in our favor with unusual dispatch.)

  • September 5, 2017
    Guest Post

    Andy Blevins, Legal & Policy Manager, OutServe-SLDN

    Serving in our nation’s military is undeniably one of the most courageous and selfless acts an individual can make. According to former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, nothing but an individual’s “lack of merit” should prevent them from such service. President Obama agreed: merely being transgender should not disqualify somebody from military service, he said.

    Neither Mr. Carter’s nor President Obama’s statements created a newfound desire to serve this nation: transgender people have been serving alongside us, in silence, forever. In fact, it is estimated that more than 15,000 transgender individuals are currently wearing the cloth of our country. They follow more than 134,000 transgender veterans and precede even more who are standing by, ready to offer their own commitment and dedication to our nation.

  • July 31, 2017

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    First came schools, next came the military.  Four months after the U.S. Department of Education withdrew guidance aimed at protecting transgender students’ rights to use the bathrooms of their choice, President Trump this week tweeted a surprise announcement that banned transgender people from serving in the military.

  • May 3, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on Lambda Legal’s blog.

    by Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Director, Lambda Legal

    Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Oregon Supreme Court arguing that it was unlawful for Judge Vance D. Day to devise a scheme to avoid marrying same-sex couples.

    Judge Day directed court staff to use the court record system to investigate whether couples wishing to marry were of the same sex and, if so, to represent that he was unavailable, rather than unwilling, to marry them.

    “A judge puts on a robe—not a clerical collar—and has a duty to administer the law impartially,” said Peter Renn, senior attorney for Lambda Legal. “No public servant, whether a judge or county clerk, has the right to ‘screen out’ same-sex couples seeking to marry from access to government services on the basis of personal religious beliefs. Everyone who comes before a judge is entitled to receive fair and impartial treatment.”

    “As public servants, judges are required to serve all people, including same-sex couples, without bias or prejudice. When they break that promise, the public loses trust in the courts,” said Eric Lesh, director of Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project. “LGBT people and other marginalized communities depend on the courts for justice when they encounter discrimination. But how can they believe they’ll get a fair shake when judges go rogue and themselves engage in discrimination—and defend their right to do so?”