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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:  The SOGI Commission will be holding its Fall Business meeting October 2-4, 2014 at the ABA Offices in Washington, D.C.  We will be devoting time to coordinating the inaugural Out Day scheduled for the Spring of 2015. We will also focus efforts on continuing educationand programming and the Stonewall Awards.  You are welcome and encouraged to join us.

New Commissioners: We have an outstanding group of Commissioners for the 2014-2015 year.  These Commissioners reflect all aspects of the ABA- including involvement in various sections, divisions and forums, geography, area of practice, the judiciary, academia and practice as well as LGBT and straight allies.  I am honored to be working with such an outstanding group.

Liasons:  We are maximising our efforts to coordinate activities within the ABA.  Critical to this effort is having liaisons from the many sections, divisions and forums as well as other Goal III entities.  Please take a look at the list of liaisons on this page.  If you are a member of any of the ABA sections, divisions or forums, please contact your entity's liaison.

Programming
:  We had some outstanding programs at the ABA Annual meeting, including the Presidential Showcase CLE co-sponsored with Labor and Employment Law (Equal Rights and the Employer: What You Need to Know (and Do), Post Windsor and Prop 8, and the Judicial Division's program co-sponsored by SOGI entitled "...and Justice for Some: Unconscious Bias and The Law."  We have also had a series of webiars on LGBT issues, including same-sex marriage and transgender leal issues.  If you have missed any of our prior programs, you can find further information on our Events & CLE page.

I am particularly proud of a roundtable SOGI hosted with the Young Lawyers Division during the Annual Meeting in Boston on the topic of school anti-bullying.  Various stakeholders-from legislators, administrators, educators, students and parents-spent an afternoon discussion the anti-bullying initiative in the Massachusetts school systems.  It was incredible to hear the stories and see the commitment of everyone involved to end bullying in the Massachusetts schools.  We plan to have similar programs throughout the country.

This year, SOGI will be continuing our programming on judicial training and we will be expanding programming on the impact of the Windsor decision with co-sponsored programs with the Tax Labor and Employment and Family Law.

Out Day
:  We are planning to host the first "Out Day" in Washington, D.C., for next Spring.  In proparation for that event, we will be coordinating this program highlighting the ABA's committment to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender conjunction during the Commission's Fall Meeting.

Publications
:  "Out and About": The SOGI Commission continues our work on "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 it's struggles.  We anticipate publication of "Out and About in early 2015.

Our next "Best Practices Guide" will focus on How to Be and Ally and we plan to have a series of webinars and programs on this topic.

Advocacy
: We are honored that the ABA's House of Delegates adopted Resolution III which SOGI co-sponsored with the Commission on Immigration which adopted amendments to the 2012 ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards concerning immigration detention and Resolution 114B which SOGI co-sponsored with the International Law Section recognizing the rights of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as basic human rights and condemns law, regulations, rules and practices that discriminate against them on the basis of their LGBT status.

This year, we will be working with the Section of Legal Education to protect the rights of and encourage a more inclusive environment for LGBT law students.

Stonewall Awards:  At the Annual Meeting, the SOGI Commissioners selected three outstanding recipients for the Stonewall Award.  Lise Iwon, Kate Kendall, and Rep. Brian Sims have and will continue to effect real change to remove barriers on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the legal profession and have championed diversity for the LGBT community.  For more information on this year's honorees, I encourage you to read their biographies on our heir interviews on our "Stonewall Award” page.  The Stonewall Awards will be presented on February 7, 2015 during the ABA's MidYear meeting in Houston, Texas.  

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 efforgs 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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