Gay

pink gavel gay lesbian bisexual transgender lawyer attorney.jpgLast week, we attended OutLaws: A Discussion With Out Lawyers, held at the LGBT Community Center here in New York. The event featured “out lawyers sharing different perspectives and stories — how they got to where they are professionally, as well as what went right, what didn’t, how they’d approach things differently today, and the specific challenges they faced as an LGBT person.”

The panel was moderated by Lisa Linsky, a litigation partner at McDermott Will & Emery. She was joined by Michael Colosi, general counsel for Kenneth Cole; Phylliss Delgreco, associate general counsel and senior vice president at Citigroup; and Roberta Kaplan, a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.

The freewheeling discussion was quite enlightening. You can read about it after the jump.

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gay marriage skadden.jpgUnless something very strange happens, California’s electoral votes are already spoken for. In fact, we might know the next President long before the California polls close.

But regardless of the national election, there are many reasons why Californians should go vote on November, 4th. For many, Proposition 8 (the initiative to ban gay marriage) will be the signature issue on the ballot.

We have reported on attorneys from Orrick and Proskauer staking out positions on Prop. 8. Yesterday, the Daily Journal did a thorough breakdown of Prop. 8 campaign spending.

The California Marriage Protection Act has prompted more than 2,600 attorneys, judges and law professors to write checks totaling at least $1.6 million, but the committees that oppose the measure received 14 percent more money from the legal community than those who support it, an analysis by the Daily Journal shows.

No Biglaw firm took an “official” stance on the issue, but the Daily Journal reported that attorneys at Knobbe Martens, Sheppard, Mullin, Latham & Watkins, Richter & Hampton and Kirkland & Ellis led in terms of individual contributions.

Additional Prop 8 campaign info after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Countdown to California’s Prop. 8 Showdown”

gay marriage skadden.jpgWe’ve reported on how various lawyers are wading into the California Proposition 8 battle through internal firm communication. Last week we told you about a “Yes on 8″ Proskauer associate who emailed entertainment law blogger Russell Wetanson from his Proskauer email account.

Apparently, one missive supporting a ban on gay marriage wasn’t enough for the associate. The associate has sent out another email — from his Proskauer account — to a much wider distribution list which included other Proskauer attorneys:

The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage did not just overturn the will of California voters (over 61% of them to be exact); it also redefined marriage for the rest of society, without ever asking the people themselves to accept this decision. As a lawyer I can tell you that those Four Activist Judges in San Francisco harmed the democratic process as much as they damaged traditional marriage. [Redacted] I know you and I agree on most things and I assume you still believe that it is a judge’s role to enforce the law not create it, but that is exactly what those Four Activist Judges did. They ignored the votes and voices of 4 million Californians and replaced it with their own. For that reason alone Prop 8 should be supported. If the proponents of gay marriage wish to change the law, let them do it properly not; through the people not through activist judges.

What people do on their personal time is their own business. But doesn’t this cat have a gmail account? There are a lot of attorneys who use the Star Jones-special “I’m a Lawyer” conceit to strengthen their argument, but why drag the firm into it?

More excerpts from this Proskauer associate after the jump.

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gay marriage skadden.jpgLegal analyst and pop-culture sycophant Russell Wetanson has been running a fairly aggressive campaign against California’s Proposition 8. The measure would ban gay marriages in California, as we have discussed before.

Wetanson sent around the following email to subscribers to his blog:

No On Prop 8. No On Prop 8. No On Prop 8.

If you think everyone agrees with this or understands the proposition, you are wrong. The evil Yes On 8 people have raised way too much money, so No On Prop 8 needs your help to keep running ads and make sure that civil rights guaranteed by the California Constitution are not stripped away by a vote.

Not surprisingly, the “evil” line produced some pretty angry responses to Wetanson, including one from a senior Proskauer Rose associate:

Russell: Easy on the “evil Yes on 8 people” – as you may or may not know I am one of them and my girlfriend [Redacted] – so unless you actually think we are evil I think it goes a little over the top to call people names (especially in support of a campaign that purports to fight against bigotry).

Though I am sure I will not change your mind I will remind you that Prop 8 will not take any substantive rights away from any individuals as California law already provides domestic partners all of the rights that can be provided under state law to same sex couples (and we both know Prop 8 does not impact federal law). On the other hand keeping the law as it was judicially modified by 4 judges who overturn 62% of Californian’s will impacts far more than those who wish to enter into a committed relationship as it impacts the requirements of educational system and potential the rights of religious organizations. This is not a doomsday prediction, it is already happening as state funds are being used to proselytize to 1st graders http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/11/MNFG13F1VG.DTL&type=politics&tsp=1.

All I am saying is adults can disagree (as you and I have responsibly for years) and while this can be an emotional issue for both sides, name calling is a little beyond you.

A reasonable response (though I disagree that taking a field trip to see a teacher get married is tantamount to “proselytizing first graders”).

After the jump, was the firm email account really the best way to communicate this message?

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gay marriage skadden.jpgConnecticut homosexuals now have the same right to get married — and eventually lose half of their stuff — as heterosexuals:

The Supreme Court released its historic ruling at 11:30 a.m. Citing the equal protection clause of the state constitution, the justices ruled that civil unions were discriminatory and that the state’s “understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection.”

Writing for the 4-3 majority, Justice Palmer wrote:

Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice, to decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.

Homosexuals were held to be a quasi-suspect class.

Now we go to the ballots. On election day Connecticut voters will have an opportunity to convene a state constitutional convention that could result in a ban on gay marriage.

Any inappropriate, firm-wide emails sent by partners staking out political positions should be sent here.

Update (Lat, J., concurring): In the comments, some of you have complained about our use of “homosexual” as a noun (instead of a more P.C. formulation like “gay men and lesbians”). Obviously we are not biased against gay people around here. Rather, our use of “homosexual” was intended to be ironic and amusingly archaic. Thanks.

High Court Grants Gay Marriage Rights [Hartford Courant]

Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health (PDF)

Earlier: Orrick’s Internal Battle Over Proposition 8

Skadden Partner Walks Into the Lion’s Den Society

pink triangle firefighters.jpgThe case of the hurtful homosexuals v. SDFD ended yesterday in mistrial. The jury could not decide if four firefighters were victims of sexual harassment. The men were “forced” to march in a San Diego gay pride parade and also taunted during the march:

The firefighters claimed they were humiliated by taunts and sexual gestures from parade watchers in San Diego.

Their complaint said parade participants included “a group of radical homosexual men” dressed in nun habits and others who yelled comments such as, “You’re making me hot!” and, “I can’t breathe, give me mouth to mouth!”

“Radical homosexual men?” Obviously these firefighters have never been to Chelsea (or even Hell’s Kitchen).

At the time SDFD policy was to make participation in the parade mandatory under anti-discrimination laws. SDFD has since made participation voluntary.

San Diego’s city attorney was happy with the outcome of the case:

City Attorney Michael Aguirre said the lawsuit “was about greed” and declared the jury’s deadlock a total victory. … Aguirre told jurors that the men were assigned to the parade after another crew backed out due to a death in one member’s family. He said the parade is a city-sanctioned event, just like celebrations of the Fourth of July and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The firefighters’ attorney said that they would seek a new trial.

But let’s flip the gender and orientation for a second. Would it be sexual harassment for a group of guys to shout “you’re making me hot” at women marching in a parade? It seems like the same standard should apply to a sexual harassment charge in both cases, if at all.

Mistrial in case of firefighters forced to join gay pride parade [CNN]

orrick logo.gifLast week, we tangentially touched on the issue of California’s Proposition 8, which is titled: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” The issue touched off a firestorm of comments, with many strong opinions for and against the measure.

Apparently, senior attorneys at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe also hold strong opinions about Prop. 8. Political divisions at the firm came to a head when Dean Criddle, a tax partner in the San Francisco office, made a $5,000 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign. Upon learning of Criddle’s contribution, his colleague in the tax department and San Francisco office, of counsel Cameron Wolfe, sent out this email:

Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2008 9:57 PM

To: SF ALL ATTORNEYS; SV ALL ATTORNEYS; SC ALL ATTORNEYS

Subject: Orrick and the Proposition 8 Campaign

The publicity attendant to the $5,000 contribution to the Yes on 8 Campaign by an Orrick partner damages the reputation of Orrick as a progressive law firm supportive of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. This can adversely impact the firm in many ways, including hurting our ability to attract gay and lesbian recruits; turning off clients, existing and potential, that support equal rights for homosexuals; and making our current gay and lesbian work force feel like second class citizens.

Chief justice George’s eloquent exposition of the reasons why same sex marriage is a right that should be guaranteed to all gay and lesbian people need not be elaborated upon here. Obviously, the partner who made the $5,000 contribution had a right to believe the Chief Justice to be wrong and to make the contribution he did. It can be debated whether he should have foreseen that this action could damage Orrick. What can’t be debated is that we should try to counteract the damage that has occurred.

One thing that we as individuals working at the Orrick firm can do is to make personal contributions to the No on 8 Campaign. If enough of us do so, that may be newsworthy enough to generate positive publicity offsetting the present negative impression in the community on this important issue.

I urge each of you to make a contribution to No on 8, which can be sent as follows:

No on 8

Equality California

2370 Market St.

San Francisco, CA 94114

And be sure to indicate your affiliation with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

Thanks for your help.

Cameron Wolfe, Jr.

We can argue about whether gay marriage should be protected by the Constitution, but isn’t it a little bit odd to be advocating one right while trying to step on a separate Constitutional protection?

Another Orrick lawyer weighs in, after the jump.

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1a Charlie Herschel David Lat.JPG
Lawyer turned Survivor contestant Charlie Herschel, right, with your above-signed writer (in the yellow Survivor do-rag).

As previously reported in these pages, Charlie Herschel — a 29-year-old, openly gay associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York — is a contestant on Survivor: Gabon, which had its two-hour season premiere last night. We’re pleased to report that Charlie is still in the running for the one million dollars. To read more about our handsome hero, including details of his friendship with fellow gay Clay Aiken, check out this interesting interview with Herschel in The Advocate.

Last night, we headed over to Professor Thom’s in the East Village, to attend a “Survivor” premiere party in Charlie’s honor. It was hosted by his employer, Weil Gotshal — which is doing well in the downturn, thanks in large part to its top-flight bankruptcy practice.

Correction: The party was not officially hosted by Weil, although many WGM attorneys were in attendance.

More discussion, plus a slideshow of party pics, after the jump.

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champagne glasses small.jpgEven as the national economy teeters on the brink of collapse, Wall Street’s elite continue to flock to the altar. Click here, here, and here, and imagine what this month has been like for these people. Getting married is stressful enough; we can’t imagine doing it while at the center of a financial meltdown.

In other random New York observations, both of the city’s baseball stadiums will close their doors this fall. Last Sunday’s final game in Yankee Stadium was celebrated with a Sports Illustrated cover and wall-to-wall coverage on ESPN. This Sunday’s game could be the last in Shea Stadium, and the New York Times marks the occasion with a gripping piece on how pilots landing at La Guardia won’t be able to use the place as a landmark anymore.

Here are this week’s couples:

1. Jean Park and Albert Cho

2. Trinity Jackman and Joshua Harlan

3. Edward Pierce and Robert Saltzman

More about our finalists, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 9.21: I’ll Meltdown With You”

gay marriage skadden.jpgProminent litigator Raoul Kennedy, a partner in the San Francisco office of Skadden, stuck his head in the lion’s mouth — and lived to talk about it. Legal Pad reports that Kennedy went to a Federalist Society meeting in San Francisco to defend gay marriage, where he didn’t pull any punches:

“How are any of us adversely impacted,” Kennedy asked, “when same-sex couples get married?”

The issue of gay marriage, he added, “is to the 21st century what slavery was to the 19th century.” Years from now, Kennedy insisted, the average person will look back and say, “How could people be so backward-oriented?”

He told the crowd there are so many problems in the world that gay marriage — in which two people only want to commit to a life together — shouldn’t be a problem. “You’ve got to have something better to do with your lives,” he said.

It’s easy to praise Kennedy for defending gay rights in front of a hostile audience, but how about the Federalist Society even existing in San Francisco? That’s like starting a Bill Maher fan club at Sunday school.

Kennedy presumably had the support of some of the Society’s more libertarian members. His debate opponent, Glen Lavy of the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, was the flag bearer for the social conservatives:

Lavy also said that only those “who oppose democracy” would try to challenge Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 ballot measure that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples, if it passes. He also argued that a defeat of Prop 8 would lead to legal attacks — on the tax-exempt status of churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages and on pastors who preach that same-sex relationships are immoral based on biblical teachings.

It would be interesting to hear what Kennedy’s fellow partners thought about their colleague pissing off the Federalist Society.

Californians: Care to predict the fate of Prop 8?

Attorney Defends Gay Marriage to Tough Crowd [LegalPad]

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