August 7, 2012

OUT and ABOUT: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession

ABA SOGI Commission

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure and the honor of serving as the Chair of the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI Commission). The SOGI Commission was created in August 2007 by approval of the Board of Governors of the ABA. Its mission is to promote full and equal participation in the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. The SOGI Commission seeks to further this mission through education efforts, policy development, outreach and relationship building, and other activities.

The SOGI Commission has accomplished much in its short history. For example, the SOGI Commission worked with other ABA entities and leaders to enact ABA policy supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples. This policy recommendation was overwhelmingly approved by the ABA House of Delegates in August 2010 with the support of many ABA leaders, including many Past Presidents of the ABA.

With the assistance of the SOGI Commission, the ABA submitted letters to Congress and to the Department of Defense in April 2010 urging the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Congress approved the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell about six months later. More recently, the Commission helped draft a letter to Congress urging the enactment of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA).

More information about the SOGI Commission and its work is available in our Annual Report.

Out and About Publication

Currently, the SOGI Commission is working together with the National LGBT Bar Association to produce an anthology. The purpose of this anthology is to share the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) attorneys, academics, and jurists in the legal profession, through their own words. We see this publication as a means to educate the legal profession and the general public about this diverse group, its contributions, and its struggles. The book will also serve as an inspiration to other LGBT people in the profession and to LGBT law students.

Currently, the SOGI Commission is in the process of identifying potential contributors for the publication. The Commission seeks to make the publication as diverse as possible in order to represent the breadth of LGBT persons in all aspects of the profession. Moreover, our hope is for the stories to be relevant for a multitude of readers, whether or not they identify as LGBT.

For more information about how to contribute, please visit the SOGI Commission's website.