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.
Thanks to all who made for an outstanding Stonewall Award reception at the Midyear Meeting in Chicago. This year, the ABA and the SOGI Commission were pleased and honored to recognize three individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the rights and dignities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons: The Honorable Elaine Kaplan, former Acting Director of the United States Office of Personnel Management; The Honorable James C. Nelson, Montana Supreme Court (Retired); and The Honorable Stephen Whittle, OBE, Manchester Metropolitan University. I encourage you to read their biographies as well as the link to their interviews on our “Stonewall Award” page.
Also, a big round of thanks to Commissioner Mark Wojcik and the panelists who spoke at the SOGI CLE Program entitled: Olympian Troubles: Responses to Russia's Anti-gay Legislation During the Sochi Winter Olympics. We have “highlights” of that program can be found on the “Events & CLE” page. It was an outstanding, informative and very timely program.
- 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;
- Together with the Section on Labor and Employment Law, the Commission will be presenting a Presidential Showcase CLE Program at this year’s Annual Meeting in Boston entitled: Equal Rights and the Employer: What You Need to Know (and Do), Post Windsor and Prop 8. It will be 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; and
- We are planning to host the first “Out Day” on Washington, D.C., in October, in conjunction with the Commission’s Fall Meeting. We plan to meet with members of Congress and coordinate the ABA’s commitment to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
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 any member of the Commission or our outstanding staff.