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  • 29 Jul 2014 1:03 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Please join us Tuesday, August 26 from 5pm - 8pm for a BALIF Pro Bono event with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) Second Chance Legal Clinic. Volunteers at the Second Chance Legal Clinic help clients overcome barriers to employment and housing by assisting with criminal record expungement, occupational licensing, criminal background reports, housing applications and denials, driver's license suspensions, and other employment concerns.

    Training for the Clinic will be Wednesday August 20 from 1pm - 2:30pm at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

    The Nuts and Bolts:
    Training (lunch provided):
    8/20 1pm - 2:30pm at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (Four Embarcadero Center, 22ndFloor SF, CA)

    Volunteer Day (happy hour to follow):
    8/26 5pm - 8pm at the West Bay Community Center (1290 Filmore Street SF, CA)

    More details on the Clinic:

    Please register in advance so we know how many people to expect!

    Jessica Bogo
    BALIF Social Action Chair

  • 28 Jul 2014 1:07 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Do you want to help shape California's laws? Join BALIF's California Conference of Bar Associations (CCBA) Committee. Each year, BALIF sends a delegation to the California Conference of Bar Associations, a group of attorneys from local, specialty, and minority bar associations across the state that are focused on improving California's laws. BALIF's CCBA Committee reviews and determines BALIF's position on resolutions that are debated at the Conference. This year, the Conference will be in San Diego from September 12-14.

    BALIF's representation and participation at the Conference are crucial to ensure visibility of the LGBT legal community at the statewide level and to bring LGBT issues before the Conference. This year, BALIF is sponsoring a resolution to address sexual violence in correctional settings in California, a problem that disproportionately affects LGBT inmates.

    If you want to weigh in on this year's proposed resolutions and/or join BALIF's delegation to the Conference, please email Denise Bergin at by August 9.

  • 22 Jul 2014 12:53 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    It's been another great week for LGBT rights. Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order banning federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order also makes clear that federal employees, who were already explicitly protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, are also protected from gender identity discrimination.

    And the good marriage equality decisions continue. On July 18, in a case in which BALIF filed an amicus brief, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision striking down Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, marking the second ruling by a federal appellate court in favor of marriage equality in the last year. On July 17, a judge in state court in Monroe County, Florida struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage.

    If you're thinking about how you can get more involved in the Bay Area's LGBT legal community, consider participating as a mentor or mentee in BALIF's Connections mentorship program. Mentor and mentee pairs are being assigned on a rolling basis, and there will be a happy hour to kickoff this year's program on September 4. Links to more information are below.

    Julie Wilensky
    BALIF Young Lawyers & Law Students Chair

  • 15 Jul 2014 4:39 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    I hope you all enjoyed the gorgeous weather the Bay Area was spoiled with this weekend. As we move into the dog-days of summer riddled with vacations and relaxation for some (hopefully you), I am pleased our progress toward full marriage equality is not enjoying a similar break.

    Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder said that if the Supreme Court decides to hear a case on same-sex marriage, the Department of Justice will file a brief urging the courts to uphold the rights of gay couples to wed. With Utah's Federal Court of Appeals striking down the ban on gay marriage, the possibility of the high court hearing the issue is becoming more likely. It is comforting to know we have the Department of Justice behind the fight, not just in word, but in action as well.

    With Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage struck down last Wednesday we are up to 19 states where same-sex couples may legally wed. Are you thinking of marrying your loved one, or did you just marry? Come learn about the pros and cons of marriage and the rights and responsibilities that come with it this Wednesday, July 16th at "Marriage...The Fine Print: 5 Surprising Facts Everyone Needs to Known."

    It was great to see many of your shining summer faces at the July 10th happy hour last week. I hope to see many of you this Tuesday at the LGBTQ Partners and Associates Reception, sponsored by BASF and BALIF.

    Lilah Sutphen
    BALIF Board Judiciary Co-Chair

  • 08 Jul 2014 6:35 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    I hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend!

    As we continue to enjoy the right to marry in California, I'd like to recognize a couple in my home state of Indiana who are leading the charge for equal rights there. Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts in 2013. Five years ago, Ms. Quasney was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. They need their marriage legally recognized in Indiana to receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives.

    On June 25th, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana found Indiana's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. However, on June 27th, at the Attorney General's request, the 7th Circuit issued an emergency order stopping gay marriages in the state. Based on the gravity of Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney's circumstances, Lambda Legal's request for the 7th Circuit to lift the stay as to only Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney's marriage was granted July 1st. I cannot imagine the emotional toll this back-and-forth takes on a family with two small children who are simultaneously dealing with stage four cancer.

    While I'm grateful that the limited stay will afford Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney some peace so they can continue to focus their energies on their family during this difficult time, I hope that no other Indiana families will have to struggle in the same manner to achieve the simple act of having one's death certificate accurately recognize the surviving partner as the deceased's spouse.

    Meaghan Zore
    BALIF Board Membership Chair

  • 03 Jul 2014 6:33 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF applauds the milestone appointment of Therese (Terry) Stewart to a position on the California Courts of Appeal. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Terry during San Francisco's LGBT Pride weekend. If confirmed, Terry, who is currently the Chief Deputy Attorney at the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, will be the first out lesbian appellate judge in the California state court system. BALIF endorsed Terry for the position last December after the unanimous recommendation of the BALIF Judiciary Committee based on Terry's decades of tireless and successful advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community, women, minorities, and other marginalized communities.

    "Therese Stewart is an ideal candidate for the California judiciary, and we were pleased and honored to deliver BALIF's endorsement," said Elizabeth Pritzker, partner at Pritzker Law in San Francisco and former BALIF Judiciary Committee Co-Chair. "Therese will bring to the Courts of Appeal a multitude of strengths: a brilliant legal mind, an exceptional aptitude for solving difficult legal questions, and a great judicial temperament. Her appointment to the appellate court is a significant legacy for the LGBT community."

    Terry has led a distinguished career as a top litigator, as one of the first female partners at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin (now Arnold & Porter LLP) in San Francisco, and since 2002, at the City Attorney's Office. As Chief Deputy Attorney, she was instrumental in securing the rights of same-sex couples to marry, from representing San Francisco when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom first attempted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, to winning marriage equality at the California Supreme Court in 2008, and finally successfully challenging Proposition 8 in Federal Court. Terry is a former member of the BALIF Board of Directors and the recipient of the 2013 American Bar Association's Margaret Brent Women's Lawyers of Achievement, the highest award for a female attorney in the United States.

    Check out Terry's It Gets Better video here:

  • 02 Jul 2014 9:57 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    I hope you all had a wonderful Pride weekend. I, for one, enjoyed the weather and all the festivities. I'm now looking forward to this long weekend! BBQ anyone?

    I want to give a shout-out to our own Therese Stewart, who, this past Saturday, was appointed by Governor Brown to the First District Court of Appeal. Subject to confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Therese will be the first openly lesbian justice to serve on the California Court of Appeal. Congratulations, Therese!!

    And, don't forget that our July Happy Hour will happen July 10 at Blanc et Rouge from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Come out and savor a glass of white (or rouge) while you meet some new folks!

    Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

    Mario Choi
    BALIF Board Treasurer

  • 25 Jun 2014 9:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Applauds Tenth Circuit Decision in Utah Marriage Equality Case
    Court Strikes Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

    JUNE 25, 2014 – San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) applauds the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued today in Kitchen v. Herbert, on appeal from the District of Utah. The decision upheld the District Court ruling striking down Utah’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

    BALIF Co-Chair Jamie Dupree said, “Amongst the recent unbroken string of decisions in favor of marriage equality, this decision is particularly significant as the first federal appellate court ruling since last summer’s decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. It is wonderful that this came out of Utah – a state where achieving marriage equality is unlikely to happen without judicial intervention.”

    BALIF filed an amicus brief arguing that following Windsor, the Utah ban is unconstitutional as the principle purpose and effect of the ban were to impose inequality on same-sex couples.

  • 24 Jun 2014 3:48 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    As the current Social Chair, I am looking forward to the many events that are being planned. Be sure to attend this year's Pride Breakfast on Sunday, June 29th graciously hosted by Jones Day at 555 California Street, 26th Floor from 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Come enjoy great food and drink before heading out to watch the parade. Trust me, this is an event you definitely want to attend! If there are any wonderful people out there interested in volunteering to help with clean-up after the Brunch (I promise not to keep you longer than 30 minutes), please e-mail me at

    Next month, be sure to attend our summer happy hour on July 10th at Blanc et Rouge from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Come enjoy a glass of wine (or two) and catch up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones.

    I am excited to be a part of the board. I have many plans and ideas for events this year and I look forward to meeting all current and prospective members of BALIF. Please check our website regularly and if you are not currently a member of BALIF, please sign up today!

    I leave you all with a quote by Dr. Seuss: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Happy Pride Month Everybody!

    Brandon Lawrence
    BALIF Board Social Chair

  • 17 Jun 2014 10:48 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    It's June, and Pride season is in full swing, as we are celebrating our past accomplishments, while looking to the future. I wanted to take this opportunity to give a little plug for a wonderful event happening this Thursday, June 19th.

    Celebrating Pride at the 50th Anniversary Of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Perspectives on Title VII and LGBT Employment Rights

    This panel discussion features a number of amazing speakers and is moderated by our very own BALIF member, Felicia Medina. I encourage you all to come June 19th, at 3:30 p.m. to the Phillip Burton Federal Building (450 Golden Gate Avenue) -the Ceremonial Courtroom (19th Floor).

    This event is just the start, as the Programs committee is working hard this year to organize a full calendar that will be of interest to our membership. This includes: MCLE trainings; opportunities for our members to get involved with the community, both locally and globally; working groups for attorneys with specialized interests; and other informative, yet fun events.

    I encourage you to get in touch with me or my Co-Chair Felicia, at with your feedback or ideas for future trainings, panel discussions, meetings, and other events. We want our programs to reflect the interests of all our members!

    Thank you for making me part of the BALIF Board, and I look forward to meeting all of you in the months to come!

    Dmitri Pikman
    BALIF Board Programs Co-Chair

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