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November 01, 2018 Winter 2018

From the Chair

Greetings! Welcome to The Equalizer, the newsletter of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)!

We at SOGI cannot and will not sugar coat the last year. President Trump’s efforts to attack and erase the LGBTQ community during his first year in office have been harmful and far-ranging. I never like lists but it is important to see what harm has been done:

  • January 20, 2017 – Minutes after Donald Trump was sworn into office, any mention of the LGBTQ community was erased from the White House, Department of State, and Department of Labor Websites.

  • February 22, 2017 – With help of Attorney General Sessions, President Trump rescinded Title IX protections for transgender students in our nation’s schools.

  • June 15, 2017 – The Department of Education rolls back the Office for Civil Rights’ expansive approach to investigating civil rights complaints that protect LGBTQ students, and other marginalized communities, from discrimination at school.

  • July 26, 2017 – President Trump announces his proposed bans on transgender service members from serving in “any capacity”

  • October 5, 2017 – In a Department of Justice memo, the Trump Administration reverses a policy that provided non-discrimination protections for transgender people in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • October 6, 2017 – The Department of Justice issues a sweeping “religious exemptions” guidance which invites taxpayer-funded federal agencies, government employees, and government contractors to legally discriminate against LGBTQ employees as long as they cite a religious belief as the reason for doing it.

  • January 18, 2018 – The Department of Health and Human Services created a new department that shields healchare workers who refuse to treat LGBTQ patients or those living with HIV by calming moral or religious objections.

The list goes on, but I think we all get the message. LGBTQ rights are under attack. We at the ABA have not and will not stand for this. Whether it be statements from the ABA President, filing Amicus briefs, or passing resolutions supporting LGBT rights the ABA has stood by the LGBTQ community. We at SOGI will continue to fight by continuing to provide educational programs, free resources, and policy changes.

In this newsletter, you will find articles that celebrate LGBT Legal heroes provide resources for transgender individuals, and bring to light some of the LGBT work to be done on behalf of Native Americans.

We on the SOGI Commission continue to work hard on behalf of the LGBT community. 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 SOGI Commission, our liaisons, or our outstanding staff.  

Mark Johnson Roberts

Chair, ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity