LGBT

This week, a Louisiana court became the first federal district court to uphold a state ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor. Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana granted the state’s motion for summary judgment in Robicheaux v. Caldwell. Finding that the claims of same-sex couples did not implicate a fundamental right triggering heightened scrutiny of the state law, he applied rational basis review to the challenge. Judge Feldman rejected arguments that sexual orientation warrants intermediate or heightened scrutiny based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor, as well as Equal Protection arguments against the Louisiana ban based on sex discrimination.

“Many states have democratically chosen to recognize same-sex marriage,” he writes. “But until recent years, it had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition. Public attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental. There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.”

American attitudes about LGBT people have changed. The fight for same-sex marriage has come far, fast. African Americans, women, disabled people, and members of other disenfranchised groups should envy the speed with which the LGBT community has achieved so much success. Not only have laws changed, but popular moral sensibilities have changed as well. In 2008, opposing marriage equality would put you in the company of most California voters. In 2014, expressing moral opposition to homosexuality can get you in big trouble. You can even face retroactive stigma — Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was ousted in 2014 because of his support of California’s Prop 8 in 2008, can attest to that.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fast Progress, Fundamental Rights: How Much Do Changing Attitudes On Same-Sex Marriage Matter?”

As clear as I can tell, Becker & Poliakoff lawyer and out-homophobe Walter Kubitz, author of the now-infamous “gay plague of AIDS” email, still has a job. I’m not at all sure why. Becker & Poliakoff keeps saying that such divisive views about gays and lesbians do not reflect the firm’s “core values” and will not be tolerated… AND YET the firm clearly values Kubitz enough that he is still being tolerated by the firm.

Is Kubitz just a fantastic attorney that Becker can’t afford to lose? The man has been working for 30 years and still hasn’t made “shareholder” at the firm, so I don’t think he can be SO good that the firm just can’t do without him. What kind of power does this guy have? Jesus, does Kubitz have photos of Becker shareholders getting gay with Santa Claus? Maybe firm management doesn’t understand that pictures of them getting busy with each other at a firm retreat would be CONSIDERABLY LESS DAMAGING to the firm’s reputation than continuing to employ such a proud homophobe.

Becker just put up a statement on their website about the Kubitz situation. The statement doesn’t actually say what Kubitz did, doesn’t contain an apology from Kubitz, and hides behind religious toleration rhetoric when that’s not even the point of what happened here. Let’s give it a close read….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is Walter Kubitz The Greatest Lawyer Of All Time?”

As an openly gay attorney at Becker & Poliakoff for over nine years, I know that the email sent by this attorney does not reflect the core values of this firm. In fact, Becker & Poliakoff is committed to diversity as reflected by the firm’s hiring practices, outreach and diversity scholarships awarded annually.

Michael Gongora, a shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff, explaining how outreach and scholarships might help future Becker lawyers learn where AIDS comes from. The firm says it has taken “immediate and severe” action against Walter Kubitz in light of his homophobic firm-wide email, but still refuses to announce the nature of the action. Kubitz’s profile is still up on the firm website, so I’m wondering if Becker management understands what “immediate and severe” even means.

The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Senior Lawyer Unleashes ‘Old School’ Homophobic Rant, Hits ‘Reply All’”

Earlier this week, several prominent LGBT advocacy groups announced that they would no longer support the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination ACT, known as ENDA. If the U.S. House of Representatives passes ENDA, it would create legal safeguards in the workplace for gay, lesbian, and transgendered employees. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund led the move, with the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center later joining NGLTF’s initial statement. The groups fear that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hobby Lobby signals a move toward expansive religious exemptions. Consequently, the groups will now focus their efforts on securing rights for the LGBT community like those provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

A few months ago, I wrote about ENDA and why conservative Republicans in the House ought to pass the bill. I pointed to a novel D.C. district court ruling allowing a gay man to move forward with his Title VII employment discrimination claim, based on his status as a homosexual male. I described the differences between Title VII’s religious exemptions for employers and the much broader exemptions provided by ENDA. In my earlier piece, I wrote, “Republican Congress members should think twice about refusing to enact legislation that would provide ENDA’s key protection of religious freedom. If they fail to do so, and the push to expand the scope of Title VII in the courts continues, no such protection will exist.”

Instead of prioritizing religious freedom, social conservatives in Congress have held fast to a strident moral opposition to LGBT rights. Instead of pressing for new, democratically enacted statutory rights, many advocates of LGBT equality will increasingly double-down on judicial re-interpretation of Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause. As each side digs in, the other side digs in deeper. Workable compromises seem fewer….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “There Are No HEROs: The Fight Between LGBT Rights And Religious Objectors Gets More Polarized”

Ted Olson and David Boies (photo by yours truly)

We do treat [gays] the same. None of them can get married to each other. That’s called equal protection. Are you familiar with that clause?

Stephen Colbert, speaking about same-sex marriage last night while interviewing David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyers behind the legal challenge to Proposition 8 and the authors of a new book, Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality (affiliate link).

(More about Boies and Olson and their book, plus video footage of their Colbert Report appearance, after the jump.)

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* Jury duty is the only major civic duty that no one ever talks about. Professor Andrew Ferguson would like to change that by encouraging jurors to speak up about their experience. Enjoy learning how the sausage of justice is made! [Huffington Post]

* Verizon threatens to sue Netflix for honestly reporting how bad Verizon’s internet speeds are. [DailyTech]

* Hey, after all those threesomes, Case Western Med School is the one in court over “professionalism” concerns. [Cleveland Plain-Dealer]

* Of course a case about using a chemical weapon on a mistress is named “Bond.” Let’s examine Justice Scalia’s curious concurrence, shall we? [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Dragons and isolationism. Makes sense. [The Legal Geeks]

* Cybercrime is pretty costly. [Lawfare]

* The emerging schism in the LGBT community on whether the term “Tranny” is empowering or a slur. Of course this is Legal Insurrection coverage, so the conclusion here is everyone who’s not with the straight white male program should just keep quiet, but the issue itself is interesting. [Legal Insurrection]

* Judge Kopf was asked to review Uncertain Justice by Professor Tribe and Joshua Matz. He didn’t want to do it, but thankfully he changed his mind. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* Slate Money discussed the Second Circuit’s reversal of Judge Rakoff last week and cited Above the Law specifically for the word “benchslap.” [Slate Money]

* Congratulations to UC Hastings dean and occasional ATL columnist Frank Wu on his reappointment as chancellor and dean! [UC Hastings]

* Lawyer + Cat = Internet win. Here’s the pic that’s going viral… [Imgur]

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* The best part of the DOJ’s charges against the Chinese hackers is definitely the fact that we now have a “Wanted” poster for “Wang Dong.” Third graders of the world, go ahead and snicker. [What About Clients]

* This is a literal way of sticking it to the banks — man arrested for attempting to have sex with an ATM machine. He was charged with public intoxication. And solicitation… goddamned $3.00 out of network charge. [The Smoking Gun]

* A new NFL lawsuit alleges that the NFL illegally used painkillers to cover up injuries. This story is brought to you by the letters D, U, and H. [Sports Illustrated]

* In an interview, the admissions dean of the University of Texas says the school “extend[s] opportunities to students who aren’t 100% perfect on paper.” No kidding. [Tipping the Scales]

* Australian lawyers are trying to argue that their cease and desist letters are copyrighted and cannot be republished. Professor Volokh explains why that’s not a viable argument in the United States. We. Totally. Concur. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* A transwoman was denied a requested name change. The judge? The former counsel to Liberty University. Of course. [GayRVA]

* Twitter icon Judge Dillard cited Wikipedia in a decision. Didn’t Keith Lee just have an article about that? [Court of Appeals of Georgia]

* More analysis of Gaston Kroub’s look at Biglaw’s Scarlet Letter. [Law and More]

* The DOJ announced that LSAC will pay $7.73 million and institute systemic reforms over its ADA violations. If only the DOJ could get on top of LSAC’s problems securing your private personal information. [U.S. Department of Justice (press release)]

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) is proposed legislation that would prohibit most employers from discriminating on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Senate passed the bill in November, but the proposal is currently languishing in the House.

President Obama supports ENDA. Recently, though, LGBT activists have criticized him for not pushing the proposed legislation harder and for not creating an executive order that would create ENDA-like protections for employees of federal contractors.

Republican lawmakers, though, are the ones who will ultimately rue not enacting ENDA while they have the chance. Here’s why….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The ENDA Title VII As We Know It: Why House Republicans Should Pass The Employment Non-Discrimination Act”

At last night’s LeGaL dinner: Alex Levy (a 3L at NYU), Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and David Lat. (Photo by Jeff Trachtman.)

Last night, I had the great pleasure of attending the LeGaL Foundation Annual Dinner, which took place at Capitale here in New York. The mood was festive — which wasn’t surprising, given the successes of both LeGaL and the broader LGBT rights movement over the past year.

Here’s my account of the evening, a celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary and an opportunity to honor some pioneers of the gay rights movement….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congratulations To LeGaL On A Grand Gay Gala!”

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