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ABA to Convene Hearing on Issues Facing LGBT Lawyers, Address Diversity Summit Findings at Annual Meeting in Chicago

CHICAGO, July 20, 2009 — A public hearing exploring real-life experiences of LGBT lawyers in the button-down world of the legal profession leads events relevant to lawyers of non-traditional sexual orientation and gender identity during the 2009 _ Annual Meeting, July 30 – Aug. 4, in Chicago.

“The Gay Bar:  LGBT Attorneys in the Profession” will feature testimony of lawyers who have faced discrimination by employers, judges and others, and of leaders in law firms, legal departments and the organized bar who have developed model programs and policies to ensure work environments are welcoming and fair.  The hearing, sponsored by the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, will convene 8:30 a.m. to noon July 31 in the Seville Ballroom West on the Lobby Level of the InterContinental Hotel.

Chair of the commission is Jeffrey Gibson of San Francisco.  Among commission members who have worked nationally to advance LGBT rights are:

  • Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and co-counsel on In Re Marriage Cases, a California marriage equality case which held that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and Proposition 8 Cases, which challenged a California ballot measure that denied gays and lesbians the fundamental right to marry,
  • Paul Smith, co-chair of the board of directors of Lambda Legal, who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held a Texas sodomy statute unconstitutional, and
  • Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney for San Francisco and co-counsel with Minter in the two California cases.

“ABA Diversity Summit:  The Next Step?” will present findings of a conference last month in Maryland assessing the legal profession’s advances in diversity involving race, gender, sexual orientation and disability, and challenge attendees to draw up an agenda for moving forward, 2 to 4 p.m. July 31 in Columbus Hall in the East Tower of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

With more than 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Editor’s Note: During the ABA Annual Meeting, a press room for working journalists will be set up at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Riverside Center, Purple Level, East Tower, and will be open for on-site media registration at 8 a.m. on July 30.  Thereafter the press room will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Aug. 4.  Media are required to register in the press room to cover any Annual Meeting event.