When it comes to the legal protection and recognition of our LGBT citizens and families, the federal government not only has led the way in promoting discrimination, it also has placed legal stumbling blocks in the way of state-enacted protections.
The following interview presents a conversation between Mary Bonauto, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Goodridge, and Gina Smith, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Despite the persistence of anti-gay bias in some states, judicial responses to lesbian and gay parents have improved dramatically over the past four decades.
On August 9, 2001, Sharon Smith became the first same-sex partner in the country to be recognized as a surviving spouse in a wrongful death suit.
Americans may take it for granted that if they fall in love with a foreigner, they will be able to sponsor their partner for residency in the United States, but there is no such option for same-sex couples. It simply does not matter how long a couple has been together or how devoted they are to each other; if the partners are the same sex, their relationship is irrelevant for immigration purposes.
Although receiving equivalent state benefits within Vermont, civil unions are denied equal treatment under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), raise federal preemption issues within Vermont, and raise "portability" questions outside the state.
The legal status of LGBT persons in American workplaces has undergone a partial revolution over the past half century: a revolution because that status has been significantly transformed, but only a partial one because in many parts of the country there remains no statutory legal redress for overt discrimination against sexual minorities in the private sector workplace. In addition, the enforcement of nondiscrimination guarantees remains uneven.
For a transgender (trans) man or woman, what begins as the dissolution of a relationship may be transformed into a public nightmare in which the individual is forced to defend the authenticity of his or her gender in the face of relentless, brutal, and humiliating questions about the most intimate details of personal anatomy and sexual practices.
Same-sex couples are changing the portrait of the American family and the landscape of family law. The number of children raised by lesbian and gay parents has continued to increase as reproductive technologies advance and as the availability of adoption expands. For same-sex parent families, it is essential to ensure that both parents have a legal parent-child relationship with their children.
Same-sex couples are changing the portrait of the American family and the landscape of family law. The number of children raised by lesbian and South Africa has one of the most progressive and inclusive constitutions in the world. It extends human rights protections across the board, respecting diversity in a way that the ideologies of "national unity" or "cultural authenticity" prevalent in many countries ignore. In particular, the South African government has shown, in the word of law, an unprecedented African commitment to acknowledging and upholding the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) residents and citizens. It is important to remember, however, that while these developments mark tremendous advancements, not all LGBT South Africans enjoy the benefits.
Many transgender employees routinely face demotions, unfavorable conditions of employment, and even discriminatory terminations—due not to job-related problems but to employers' discomfort with and animus against transgender people.
One commonality among a number of civil rights struggles—for women, African Americans, and now gay and lesbian Americans—is access to and treatment within civil marriage.
This column pays special tribute to the firm as a whole and to three outstanding lawyers in particular.