Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, June 2014 Now Available

Marriage Equality Moves Forward During May: Oregon & Pennsylvania Are 18th & 19th Marriage Equality States After District Court Rulings Are Not Appealed

The campaign for marriage equality took a major step forward during May 2014, as federal trial courts in Oregon and Pennsylvania ruled for plaintiffs and state representatives decided not to appeal the rulings, which went into effect immediately. Several new marriage equality lawsuits were filed during May, so by the end of the month there were more than seventy cases pending, with at least one lawsuit in every state with same- sex marriage bans, except for North Dakota.

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Social Justice Conference: 50 Years of Radical Lawyering Since Freedom Summer

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is holding a free all-day Social Justice Conference for law students on Friday, June 6, 2014 at the City University of New York School of Law. This Conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer by profiling global and domestic models of “movement lawyering”–lawyers and organizers working together within grassroots social justice movements to build power. The Conference will spotlight some of the most important movements of our time and the lawyers supporting them, including: Stop-and-Frisk in NYC, anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda, stand your ground laws in Florida, Guantanamo, torture in Colombia, exploitation of laborers in New Orleans, and the Marikana mineworker massacre in South Africa. The goal of the Conference is to expose participants to the many different ways lawyers support social movements around the world, and to strategize about how to more effectively work for change.

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Job Opportunity at DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services

District Council 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) is currently looking to hire a Staff Attorney of its Housing Unit. Each Staff Attorney is a part of a team of lawyers, social workers, and legal assistants who represent city employees and their families in connection with civil legal matters covered by the MELS programs

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Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, May 2014 Now Available

India’s Highest Court Declares Equal Rights for Members of India’s Transgender Community

In a historic decision, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, ruling on a petition brought by the National Legal Services Authority on behalf of members of the transgender community, has declared that among the human rights protected by the Indian Constitution are the rights of individuals to State recognition of their gender identity and sexual orientation, and to be free of official discrimination on these grounds. National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, Writ Petitions (Civil) No. 400 of 2012 and No. 604 of 2013 (April 15, 2014). The original petitioner was joined by several others, resulting in a consolidated decision. Although the petition was brought specifically to gain redress from the outcast status of transgender people in India, the court’s expansive language appeared to take in as well, at least to some extent, the social inequalities endured by gay people.

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Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, April 2014 Now Available

Michigan Ruling Adds to Unbroken String of Marriage Equality Victories

Senior U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled on March 21 that the Michigan Marriage Amendment (MMA) and the statutes that implement it, prohibiting same-sex marriages in Michigan, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Judge Friedman ordered the state to stop enforcing the ban, not mentioning Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request that any ruling in favor of the plaintiffs be stayed pending appeal. The case is DeBoer v. Snyder, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37274, 2014 WL 1100794 (E.D. Mich., March 21, 2014). The plaintiffs, April DeBoer and Jane Rowse, started the case in an effort to adopt each other’s children, but expanded it to challenge the state’s marriage ban on the invitation of Judge Friedman, who concluded early in the litigation that the immediate statutory obstacle to the desired adoptions was that the plaintiffs could not marry each other. Judge Friedman’s Order has been stayed by the 6th Circuit pending its ruling on the merits of the state’s appeal. Continue reading

Lesbian/Gay Law Notes, March 2014 Now Available

Virginia Marriage Equality Ruling Both a Big Deal and the New Normal

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition for same-sex marriages, was unconstitutional, a wave of litigation over marriage equality has descended on the federal (and some state) trial courts, and so far every judge who has ruled on a motion for summary judgment has concluded that bans on performing or recognizing same-sex marriages violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as a matter of law. In that sense, there is really nothing new about U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s decision in the case of Bostic v. Rainey, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19080 (E.D. Va., Feb. 13, 2014, amended Feb. 14, 2014), holding Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, since the opinion falls within what is now the mainstream of a growing body of trial court decisions issued by judges of just about every political stripe.

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Charter High School for Law and Social Justice: Principal Search Announcement

This past December, the New York State Board of Regents granted a charter for the Charter High School for Law and Social Justice. The Charter High School is the product of a unique partnership between New York Law School and the College of Mount Saint Vincent. Using a theme of law and social justice, the Charter School will engage, inspire, and empower students, and will equip them with the academic skills to earn a Regents diploma and gain admission to the college of their choice. The School is expected to open in August 2015 with approximately 120 ninth grade students. For additional information about the school, please visit http://www.chslawandsocialjustice.org.

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The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later

In his State of the Union Address in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty and stated, “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.”  The Johnson administration launched a multifaceted attack on poverty by creating a broad array of government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, the Community Action Program, and Legal Services. These lasting programs provided employment opportunities and ushered in a decline in poverty-related conditions. Continue reading