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  • Chair's Message

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Jim Holmes, Chair

Greetings and welcome to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), leading the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the Association, the legal profession and society.

 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

 

Next Commission Meeting:  This year’s ABA Annual Meeting will take place in Boston.  The SOGI Commission will be holding its business meeting on Friday, August 8, 2014 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Room A, 3rd Level, Sheraton Boston.  We will be summarizing our amazing year as well as outlining what is planned for the next year.  You are welcome and encouraged to join us.

 

Programming:  Together with the Section on Labor and Employment Law, the Commission will be presenting a Presidential Showcase CLE Program entitled:  Equal Rights and the Employer: What You Need to Know (and Do), Post Windsor and Prop 8.   It is a little more than one year after the Windsor and Prop 8 decisions and our panel of nationally recognized experts and leading advocates on LGBT legal issues to discuss: How we got here, current status of the law, what it means to employers and other, and where these trends are going.  Our panelists will outline important and practical issues you will need use in your daily practice.  The program will be held on Sunday, August 11th from 10:30am ET – 12:00 pm ET in the Hynes Convention Center. 

 

There will also be several outstanding programs relating to inclusions and diversity, including a program co-sponsored by SOGI and presented by the Judicial Division entitled "' . . . and Justice for Some':  Unconscious Bias and The Law."

 

Stonewall Awards:  At the Annual Meeting, the SOGI Commissioners will be selecting the next recipients of the ABA’s Stonewall Award, recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the rights and dignities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  For information on past recipients, I encourage you to read their biographies as well as the link to their interviews on our Stonewall Award” page.

 

Looking ahead:

 

    The SOGI Commission continues our work on “Out and About: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession”.  “Out and About” will share the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender attorneys, academics, and jurists in the profession, through their own words, in an effort to educate the legal profession and the general public about this diverse group, its contributions and its struggles;

 

    Our next “Best Practices Guide” will focus on How to Be an Ally;

 

    We are planning to host the first “Out Day” in Washington, D.C., for next Spring.  In preparation for that event, we will be meeting with members of Congress and coordinate the ABA’s commitment to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender conjunction with the Commission’s  Fall Meeting.

 

Although quite young, we on the SOGI Commission are very proud of our accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT community.  The SOGI Commission has and will be instrumental in directing policy, leading efforts for full LGBT inclusion and education efforts.  Take a look at both the Goal III and Annual Reports for even more information on what is being done within the Commission and the ABA.

 

The past and future success of the SOGI Commission is based on the efforts of our Commissioners and liaisons, but also the ABA’s on-going commitment to diversity and inclusion, a thriving LGBT legal community, and the efforts of our allies within the legal profession and justice system.

 

As the Chair of the SOGI Commission, I am dedicated to ensuring that we continue to seek out opportunities to collaborate with ABA leadership and others on diversity and inclusion initiatives; advocate for LGBT issues through policy development; be an informational resource on LGBT matters for the legal profession and justice system; and, educate the profession and public about the barriers that LGBT persons face with the legal profession and justice system.

 

If you are interested in being a part of this very exciting and essential work, please do not hesitate to contact me, any member of the Commission, our liaisons or our outstanding staff.

 

Best,

 

Jim Holmes

 

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