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  • 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
  • 10 Jun 2014 10:58 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    It's that time of year again! BALIF's Connections mentorship program is seeking mentors and mentees for 2014-2015.
    The Connections mentoring program gives law students and newer lawyers the opportunity to be matched with established Bay Area attorneys who practice in a variety of settings, including large and small firms, nonprofit and public interest organizations, and governments. Mentors provide guidance about the nuts and bolts of careers in the law, as well as practical advice to help mentees build their job seeking and networking skills. For mentees, the Connections program offers a great opportunity for networking, skills development, and career building in the LGBT legal community by some of the best in the field, including judges, law firm partners, senior public interest and government attorneys, and corporate in-house counsel.

    BECOME A MENTEE or MENTOR! If you are a law student, recent law school graduate, or newer attorney seeking a mentor, or if you are an experienced attorney interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Julie Wilensky, Mentee applicants will be required to submit a brief questionnaire that will assist us in making a mentor-mentee match, including asking about the type of law you wish to practice and other specific information to help make your mentoring relationship a success. Mentors will be asked some basic questions to ensure that a prospective mentee is a good fit in terms of the mentor's practice area and time availability. Mentors and mentees must commit to meeting at least three times in person during the mentorship year (from September to May) and be willing to communicate more frequently by phone and email. Mentor/mentee pairs will be assigned on a rolling basis between July and September. Stay tuned for more details on a happy hour to kick off the Connections program this fall.
  • 10 Jun 2014 10:46 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Happy Pride Everyone!! Stay informed about Pride events and stay connected with other BALIF members on a variety of social mediums.

    BALIF has groups on LinkedIn and Facebook where group members can post events or comments. Just search for BALIF and request to join these groups. BALIF is also on Twitter, where you can follow us to see BALIF news, event info, #ThrowbackThursday posts, and more!

    All members who are not currently on the BALIF Listserv should have received an invitation to join through Google Groups earlier today. Once a member of the Listserv, you can communicate with other members on specific legal issues, request referrals, announce events, access professional support, enhance your practice and elevate your professional development. To join, just follow the instructions in the email invitation. If you do not respond to the invitation promptly, it will expire. If you did not receive an invitation today, please let us know by emailing

    BALIF also posts photos from events on our website, so check those out too. The website and Newsletter provide a wealth of information and resources of which every BALIF member should be aware. So please explore and use these fun and useful tools today!

    Jennifer Orthwein
    BALIF Board Communications & Technology Chair
  • 03 Jun 2014 10:45 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    As we enter Pride Month in San Francisco, let us look back at how far our movement has come in the past year. U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones put it most eloquently:

    "...that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of "separate but equal." . . . In the sixty years since Brown was decided, "separate" has thankfully faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

    We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history." Whitewood v. Wolf, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68771, 50-51 (M.D. Pa. May 20, 2014).

    Happy Pride Month BALIF Members, you deserve it.

    Pete Catalanotti
    BALIF Board Secretary

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