October 19, 2018

Washington, D.C., human rights activist Mark Agrast to receive Stonewall Award

CHICAGO, Oct. 19, 2018 — The American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will honor human rights activist Mark Agrast with its Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Jan. 26, 2019, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas.

Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. 

Agrast, executive vice president and executive director of the American Society of International Law, has a long history of working to advance the rights of LGBT persons. Within the ABA, his efforts range from helping to start the association’s Committee on the Rights of Gay People in 1983, spearheading a move to amend the ABA Constitution in 1992 to provide that the LGBT Bar is an affiliated organization, establishing the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in 2007 to leading the successful effort to pass a resolution supporting same-sex marriage in the ABA House of Delegates in 2014. He has chaired numerous ABA entities, including the Commission on Disability Rights and the Commission on Immigration, served in the House of Delegates for many years and on the Board of Governors. He also cofounded the LGBT Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

Long a leader in the World Justice Project, Agrast played a key role in designing and implementing its Rule of Law Index. From 2009-14, he was deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice. He was senior vice president and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress from 2003-09. Prior to that, he spent a decade working for members of Congress on Capitol Hill, and before then practiced international law with Jones Day in Washington, D.C.

In recognition of his contributions to LGBT rights, Agrast received the Dan Bradley Award from the National LGBT Bar, the Distinguished National Service Award from the LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia and the Civil Rights Hero Award from the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

A native of Cleveland, he graduated summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He pursued his post-graduate studies as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal of International Law. Agrast is a member of the Supreme Court Bar and is admitted to practice in Ohio and the District of Columbia.

“Mark has been a steady leader with a calm and effective demeanor for our LGBTQ community, for several decades championing our causes when it was not popular to do so and when it was very lonely at times to be so outspoken for the protection and advancement of our rights,” said Victor M. Marquez, chair of the ABA SOGI Commission. “He is a true visionary leader who has accomplished so much for us, and we are indebted to him for his many years of service both within the ABA and in the community as whole. We salute you, Mark!”

You can find a photo of Agrast here.

The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

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