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  • 30 Oct 2016 4:34 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On October 25, 2016, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Carcaño v. McCrory, a case challenging H.B. 2, North Carolina’s discriminatory law that targets transgender people for discrimination in public schools and facilities.

    The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of the portion of H.B. 2 that bars transgender people from using single-sex restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Although the district court granted a limited injunction barring enforcement of H.B. 2 by the University of North Carolina against three of the plaintiffs who are transgender, the court declined to bar broader enforcement of H.B. 2 under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, leaving transgender people who live in or visit North Carolina vulnerable to the harms imposed by H.B. 2. The plaintiffs appealed the denial of broader injunctive relief under the Equal Protection Clause to the Fourth Circuit.

    BALIF’s brief argues that H.B. 2 facially discriminates against transgender people based on sex, and that it is a classic example of unlawful sex stereotyping. Its restroom provisions are rooted in the stereotype that all people should act in a manner consistent with society’s expectations about the sex they were assigned at birth. The brief highlights the significant body of law confirming that targeting transgender people for their perceived gender non-conformity is sex stereotyping that violates constitutional and statutory prohibitions on sex discrimination.

    “In a variety of contexts and for many years, the federal courts have recognized that sex stereotyping of transgender people is a form of unlawful sex discrimination,” said Julie Wilensky, chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee. “H.B. 2 is no different.”

    The Impact Fund and its attorneys Lindsay Nako and Lynnette Miner served as BALIF’s amicus counsel, and Impact Fund also joined the brief.

    In addition to BALIF and Impact Fund, a broad coalition of 35 additional bar associations and non-profit legal organizations joined the brief: AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Atlanta Women for Equality, Bar Association of San Francisco, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, BiLaw, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Centro Legal de la Raza, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Dallas LGBT Bar Association, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association, Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, Hawai‘i LGBT Legal Association, Kansas City Lesbian, Gay, and Allied Lawyers, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, LGBT Bar Association of Wisconsin, Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, National Employment Law Project, National Employment Lawyers Association, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, New Mexico Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Queen’s Bench Bar Association, SacLEGAL, Santa Clara County Bar Association, Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston, Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California, and Virginia Equality Bar Association.

    ######

    Click here to read the brief

  • 18 Oct 2016 11:40 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Hillary Clinton's voter protection team is looking for lawyers who are willing to travel to battleground states to protect the vote.  (Law students and people with paralegal experience are also needed.)


    Is voter suppression still a thing?

    In spite of recent court rulings, yes!  See this recent NY Times article:  
    Some Republicans Acknowledge Leveraging Voter ID Laws for Political Gain .

    If I go to a battleground state, what will I do?

    You will monitor the polls on Election Day as a poll observer. The state voter protection team will assign you to work at a polling place. They'll train you in advance on state law and how to report and handle incidents at the polls.  You may also answer calls on the voter assistance hotline or take on other tasks.

    What's the time commitment?

    You should travel to your state no later than Monday, 11/7, and stay through Tuesday night until the last vote has been counted.

    If you can arrive the weekend or the week before, you can help with Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities like door-knocking.  

    Are expenses provided?

    No.  And you have to make your own travel arrangements.  (But think of the price we'll pay if Hillary is not elected.)  

    If you have a place to stay and can house other volunteers, please let Victory Counsel know.

    Can I travel with friends or relatives who are not legal types?

    Absolutely. There will be plenty of GOTV activity for all. Just tell your state voter protection team when they contact you.

    Do I have to go to Florida or Ohio?

    No.  Lawyers are also needed in the swing states of: 

     

    Iowa

    Michigan

    Nevada

    New Hampshire

    Wisconsin

    North Carolina

    Virginia

    Pennsylvania.



    Please fill in the items below and send your response to victorycounsel@hillaryclinton.com .

    1. Name and address

    2. Email

    3. Cell phone

    4. State(s) you are willing to travel to (indicate preference, if any)

    5. Dates you can be there

    6. Do you have housing there (and where)?

    7. Will or can you have access to a car?

    8. Please specify if you are a lawyer, law student, or have significant paralegal experience, and if you have special skills or experience.

    9.  Please specify any languages you speak other than English.

    10. Will you be traveling with any other volunteers?  Please indicate their dates and activities.

    When will I know my assignment?

    The voter protection team in the battleground state you have chosen will be in touch with you over the next several weeks.  If you have questions before you hear from them, email victorycounsel@hillaryclinton.com .

    Reminder:  Get your absentee ballot 

    If you are thinking of traveling, request an absentee ballot soon.  Each state has its own procedures, e.g., http://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html . Vote even if you are in a "safe" state as there will be other important races and issues on your ballot.

    I can't travel, but what else can I do?

    Recruit other lawyers to poll watch, host a grassroots fundraiser, travel to a swing state on the weekends to canvass. (Watch the video!) Volunteer here: www.hillaryclinton.com/page/volunteer-home/ .

    Can I forward this email to friends?

    Yes.  Please ask them to register with Victory Counsel here: www.hillaryclinton.com/forms/volunteerattorneys/  and someone will call them.

  • 26 Jul 2016 10:40 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    The Lavender Law Conference is just around the corner! This year, the annual conference hosted by the National LGBT Bar Association is in DC from August 4-6. We hope to see you there!

    We are still seeking additional donations for our Lavender Law scholarship! If your company has not already done so, please make a contribution to help Bay Area LGBT law students attend Lavender Law.  Please send your check to BALIF with “Lavender Law” in the memo line, at BALIF, P.O. Box 193383, San Francisco, CA 94119.

  • 12 Jul 2016 9:39 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Silicon Valley (APABA-SV) are pleased to announce Ian Barber, a rising 2L at Hastings, as their 2016 BALIF/ABAPA-SV Joint Scholarship recipient.  Out of many applicants who submitted applications by 06/13/16, Ian was selected to receive the one $3,000 scholarship. Ian's commitment to LGBT representation and helping asylum seekers find safety in the United States were some of the determining factors leading to his selection.  Congratulations, Ian!

  • 12 Jun 2016 4:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF extends outrage and sorrow for the victims of the Orlando massacre, for their families and friends, and for queer and people of color all across the world who remain the target of hate and homophobia.

    Please join us at 8:00pm tonight at Harvey Milk Plaza for a vigil for the victims in Orlando. And during this Pride month and beyond, please continue marching and demanding justice and change. We are stronger than hate.

  • 20 Apr 2016 3:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    BALIF would like to congratulate the following attorneys and law students who were elected to the 2016-2017 BALIF Board:

    Sarah Nicole Davis
    Lauren Putsch
    Peter Catalanotti
    Nick Clements
    Stan Sarkisov
    Alex Touma
    Ashley Pellouchoud

    Law Student Representatives:

    Stephan Ferris
    Sam Potts

  • 08 Mar 2016 5:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release
    Date
    : March 8, 2016
    Contact:  John Unruh and Jessica Bogo at Chair@balif.org

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) Joins Bar Associations Around California and California State Bar President, David Pasternak to Call on President Obama and Senate to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

    San Francisco, CA – Today, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) joined bar associations from across the state of California to send a letter to President Barack Obama and Senate leaders urging them to heed their constitutional duty to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. The bar associations, representing over 30,000 lawyers throughout the state, called on the president to quickly nominate a qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, and for the Senate to consider that nominee without delay. In addition to BALIF, the signatories to the letter include the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Alameda Country Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, the Yolo County Bar Association, and over a dozen other statewide and local bar associations.  California State Bar President David Pasternak also signed on to the letter in his individual capacity.

    Commenting on the decision to join forces with other bar associations in this effort, BALIF Co-Chair Jessica Bogo said, “BALIF stands with tens of thousands of California lawyers in calling on our nation’s elected officials to fulfill their constitutionally required duties to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.” BALIF is the nation's oldest and largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the field of law.  BALIF’s decision to join in the letter was taken after a vote of the members of its governing board on March 4, 2016.

    In addressing the possibility that the nomination and confirmation process might be thwarted, the letter warns that “[t]he implications of this course of action would be significant, subjecting people in different regions of the country to different legal standards on matters of constitutional importance and leaving open the specter of an unresolved constitutional crisis.”

    The letter goes on to explain that “the framers placed in the hands of the executive and legislative branches of our government a duty to ensure that the third pillar of our democracy, our courts, would be protected from entanglement in partisan politics.” “While careful evaluation and reasoned debate regarding the qualifications of the nominee are central to the Senate’s role to advise and consent, it would undermine the rule of law and risk nullifying the Supreme Court’s power to serve its constitutional role as arbiter of disputes, were the confirmation process to be delayed until a new president is inaugurated.”

    With the issuance of this letter, bar associations representing the two most populous cities in the United States, New York and Los Angeles, have now called on the Senate to consider a nominee to the Supreme Court without delay. The California letter comes on the heels of similar calls by the New York State and New York City Bars  respectfully requesting the Senate to reconsider its refusal to consider a nominee put forward by the president. Constitutional law scholars at universities around the country have also weighed in via a joint statement, pointing out that the Constitution “has no exception for election years.”

    The letter signed by the California bar associations ends, “We ask that you carry out your constitutionally prescribed roles with full fealty to the oaths you have taken so that our Supreme Court is returned to its full membership.”

    ###

  • 08 Mar 2016 4:55 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On March 4, 2016, BALIF joined the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and a coalition of other organizations in an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas. The case concerns Texas’s challenge to President Obama’s Executive Actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.

    NQAPIA’s brief informs the U.S. Supreme Court of the special concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders (API). An estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share are API.

    According to Glenn D. Magpantay, NQAPIA Executive Director, “The Supreme Court is extremely supportive of LGBT people, and we aim to show how immigration laws and policies have a direct impact on the lives of LGBT people.” He continued, “We also lift up the voices of Asian Pacific Islanders to demonstrate the ethnic diversity of undocumented immigrants.”

    Julie Wilensky, chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee Chair, said, “Immigrants rights are LGBT rights, and BALIF is proud to stand with NQAPIA. The brief vividly illustrates how the expanded immigration programs protect LGBT immigrant families, especially APIs, from harassment, discrimination and hardship.” 

    Click here to read the brief.

    Amici are represented by McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

  • 10 Feb 2016 10:11 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Public Justice, a national public interest law firm dedicated to pursuing high impact lawsuits to combat social and economic injustice, protect the Earth’s sustainability, and challenge predatory corporate conduct and government abuses, seeks to hire a law school graduate to serve as a Fellow for two years in either its Washington, D.C. headquarters or its Oakland, California office.  The Fellow will help develop and litigate Public Justice’s cases.  The position will start in the fall of 2016. 

    Click here for more details!

  • 05 Jan 2016 9:30 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On January 4, 2016, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) and a coalition of 13 other LGBT, racial justice, and health equity organizations filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down draconian restrictions on abortion providers enacted by the State of Texas in 2013 which, if upheld, would lead to the closing of most abortion clinics in the state. The brief urges the Court to carefully scrutinize the state’s asserted justification for the law, just as the Court has done with other laws that infringe upon fundamental freedoms. The State of Texas has argued that the law protects the health of women seeking abortion, but the evidence at trial showed just the opposite. In fact, medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association have explained that the restrictions imposed by the new law are medically unnecessary and endanger, rather than advance, women’s health.

    In addition to BALIF, the organizations filing the brief are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Equal Justice Society, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, Equality Federation, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Immigration Equality, the National Health Law Program, and Movement Advancement Project.

    U.S. history is replete with attempts to use pseudo-science and unsupported health-related justifications to exclude individuals and groups from the full protection of essential constitutional liberties, including laws barring interracial marriage, excluding women from certain professions, permitting the forced sterilization of those deemed “inferior,” and criminalizing and discriminating against LGBT people. BALIF and its fellow amici urge the Court to remember this history and to fulfill its constitutional obligation to look carefully at the State’s asserted justifications for restricting women’s fundamental right to reproductive autonomy. 

    “The brief powerfully reminds us of the history of using empirically indefensible social science to justify discrimination against vulnerable groups," said Julie Wilensky, chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee. “With this history in mind, it is especially important for the Court to meaningfully review the public health rationales Texas has asserted here."

    BALIF and the other amici are represented by Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

    Click here to read the brief.

    Click to view a PDF of the press release.
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