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  • 18 Dec 2013 2:43 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends-

    Happy Holidays!

    As we enter the holiday season, we think about how important it is for all of us to give and support the people and causes we care about so dearly. The Social Action Committee has been a flurry of activity, planning service events for 2014 and continuing our work with the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Horizons Foundation, and the Council for Global Equality to identify and execute initiatives to help improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Russia.

    As the situation in Russia continues to get dire, even in the bright international limelight of the upcoming Sochi Olympics, LGBT Russian civil society needs help. Fortunately, there's something Americans can do: support the Russia Freedom Fund.

    There are fewer than 20 paid staff for LGBT groups in Russia in a country of over 140 million people, a depressingly low number for a country of its size. Persecution of LGBT people, especially LGBT community leaders and youth, continues to carry on at a worrying pace. By supporting the Russia Freedom Fund, we have the opportunity to strike back against Putin's grotesque clampdown on civil society and his efforts to single out and demonize a minority group, all for the sake of appearing anti-Western to shore up his power.

    We hope that you will join celebrities, athletes, and community leaders with the Uprising of Love campaign to spread the word and support the Fund. If you love social media, than this campaign is tailor-made for you!

    Also, if you are interested in helping LGBT immigrants seeking asylum or refugee status in the U.S., especially here in California , please stay tuned for pro bono opportunities and an important announcement from the Horizons Foundation.

    We look forward to celebrating 2013 and seeing everyone at the BALIF Holiday Party this Wednesday, December 18 from 5:30 - 9:00pm at Tank 18 wine bar. Please RSVP here!

    Jessica Bogo
    BALIF Social Action Committee Co-Chair
  • 12 Dec 2013 2:42 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF Members and Friends-

    As you sift through your holiday party invitations, there is one that you should be sure not to miss. Please join us on Wednesday, December 18, from 5:30- 9:00 pm at the Tank 18 wine bar in Soma for BALIF's annual holiday party. Please RSVP here! BALIF has planned a special event for a truly extraordinary year. In 2013, tens of thousands of Californians entered into same sex marriages that were previously prohibited. For many of our colleagues and friends, a long wait has finally ended. At this year's party, we will both celebrate tremendous advancements in the law that led to these joyous results, and honor BALIF's pro bono counsel at Munger Tolles for its devotion to both BALIF and marriage equality. I hope to see you all there.

    Nickolas Kacprowski
    BALIF Amicus Chair
  • 06 Dec 2013 2:36 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends-

    I hope that you all had a nice and relaxing holiday with friends, family, and significant others. I had a lovely day, spending it in Miami with my partner's family stuffing my face full of Cuban-style pork and black beans (for my money, pork beats turkey any day!).

    As we kick off the holiday season and the accompanying holiday parties, make sure that December 18 from 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. is blocked off for the best one: BALIF's annual Holiday Party, Wednesday, December 18, from 5:30- 9:00 pm at the hip Tank 18 wine bar in Soma. RSVP on the BALIF website.
    We will, of course, be celebrating a momentous year in the advancement of gay rights. We will also be honoring Munger Tolles & Olson LLP with the BALIF Community Service Award for their many contributions to those advancements. It's an event you will not want to miss.

    That's it for now - but if you see one of our law school members in the next week or two, be sure to wish them good luck on finals (and buy them a cup of coffee if they look exhausted!).

    Nick Clements
    BALIF Social Chair
  • 27 Nov 2013 2:32 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends-

    Union Square resurrected the San Francisco Christmas Tree weeks ago, but for me, this week is the real kick-off to the season. I am sure many weekends were spent planning those Thanksgiving menus, reserving that turkey, or maybe trying to find a last-minute place to consume your mashed potatoes and gravy. I spent my weekend ruminating on just how many brussels sprouts one should plan on 23 people eating, and whether great offense will be taken if the sweet potato casserole evolves into roasted sweet potatoes with a bourbon maple glaze.

    This week is a great time to reflect on the year and acknowledge all for which we have to be thankful. DOMA and Prop 8 were huge victories we all carry in our back pockets. We also have marriage equality in more states than ever, most recently adding Illinois to the list. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has passed in the U.S. Senate, the first transgender person, Amanda Simpson, has been appointed by President Obama to the administration as a senior technical advisor to the Department of Commerce, and so much more. Take a minute to reflect and be thankful. Baby steps...

    As we head into the month of December, I hope you join BALIF at our Holiday Party December 18th at Tank 18. After Christmas, join BALIF at the Castro Theatre to laugh along with us at The Kinsey Sicks.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving and I hope to see you soon!

    Lilah Sutphen
    BALIF Gala Co-Chair
  • 20 Nov 2013 2:28 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    BALIF Members and Friends-

    The holidays are quickly approaching and BALIF has some awesome events coming up to help you through them. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and BALIF are co-hosting a happy hour mixer at Pause Wine Bar this Thursday, November 21st. Also, the BALIF Holiday Party is just around the corner on Wednesday, December 18th at Tank 18. RSVP here! It will be an event you don't want to miss.

    If you missed the FBANC fundraiser benefiting Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, there are still ways to support the victims. Just visit to find out more.

    Did you know BALIF has a Twitter account? Follow us to see BALIF news, event info, #ThrowbackThursday posts, and more. If you haven't joined the BALIF Listserv on Google Groups, email me at and I will make sure you get connected.

    Hope to see you soon!


    Jennifer Orthwein
    BALIF Technology Chair
  • 13 Nov 2013 2:20 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Hello BALIF Members and Friends-

    I hope this finds you smiling.

    Visiting Hawaii this past weekend, the press coverage of the proposed Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 was widespread and diverse. When I see and hear other states struggling with LGBT equality issues I often wonder what I, as a San Francisco resident, can do to help.

    I think I figured out one small way I can help. I can support my LGBT brothers and sisters right here in the Bay Area (and stop feeling helpless).

    As attorneys and law students we are constantly asked for referrals. You all know you can search for BALIF members by name, but did you know you could search by practice area, Law Firm, or Organization?

    The next time someone needs a real estate attorney or the next time someone is interviewing at a particular law firm, send them to our Member Directory to see if any BALIF members can help. Or better yet, locate an attorney in the directory that would be a good referral and reach out to them yourself before sending the referral. Strengthening our community here will help strengthen our communities in other states.

    Another way you can help is to join me for a casual drink at all of the following:

    1. 2013 Minority Bar Coalition Unity Awards Reception Thursday, November 14th at 5:30 at UC Hastings (honoring our own Chelsea Haley Nelson!)

    2. BALIF/NCLR Happy Hour on November 21, 2013 at 6:00 at Pause Wine Bar.

    3. BALIF's Holiday Party on December 18, 2013 at 5:30 at Tank 18.

    Click on the link and click on "Add to my calendar" and you're set.

    Thank you!

    Peter Catalanotti
    BALIF Outreach Chair
  • 06 Nov 2013 2:13 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Greetings from the Programs Committee! November is finally here, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and there is much for which to be thankful for!

    Please join BALIF and other local minority bar associations next Thursday, November 14th for the 2013 Minority Bar Coalition Unity Awards Reception at UC Hastings. Come celebrate the extraordinary contributions of this year's honorees, including BALIF's very own Chelsea HaleyNelson.

    Also, mark your calendar for Thursday, November 21st for BALIF's happy hour mixer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The Programs and Social Committees are planning a great evening for mingling with fellow BALIF members and NCLR representatives and supporters.

    We hope to see you at both events. Have a great week!

    Leah Nutting
    BALIF Programs Committee Chair
  • 29 Oct 2013 10:12 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    Dear BALIF Members and Friends-

    Greeting from the Public Relations Committee! We have been keeping busy getting the word out about all the amazing work BALIF members are doing. Last week was an exciting and busy week for BALIF. First, the Judiciary Committee held a kickoff reception for the LGBT Judges Council and Advisors Council. The LGBT Judges Council includes Bay Area active and retired judges who will serve as informal mentors to LGBT attorneys who aspire to join the bench and the Advisors Council includes senior and well-connected LGBT attorneys to build a pipeline for the bench. Several judges spoke at the reception, held at Keker & Van Nest LLP. Kudos to Andrew Vu and Elizabeth Pritzker, Judiciary Committee Co-chairs for a wonderful kickoff event and great work in increasing the LGBT presence on the bench.

    The Amicus Committee was also busy, filing amicus curiae briefs Friday in the Hawaii and Nevada Ninth Circuit challenges to those states' marriage bans. A copy of the press release can be found here. Kudos to Nick Kacprowski, Amicus Committee Chair, for leading the charge.

    The Social Action Committee helped beautify Glen Park Elementary Sunday and is taking a leadership role in a coalition of organizations mobilizing to help the LGBT crisis in Russia. Kudos to Social Action Committee Co-chairs Jessica Bogo and Dmitri Pikman.

    The Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) Committee led by Julie Wilensky is working with the CCBA to pursue legislation guaranteeing inmates in California access to prescribed medicines, including hormone maintenance therapy for transgender inmates. A copy of the press release can be found here.

    Here on the Public Relations Committee, we are gearing up to expand our social media presence. Email if you are interested in getting involved in this effort. We are also creating a directory of BALIF members who are experts in their fields to provide to our media contacts. It's a great way to get your name out there, so if you are an expert in your field and want to be included, email

    Denise Bergin
    Public Relations Committee Chair
  • 29 Oct 2013 9:03 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For immediate release: Please contact Nick Kacprowski BALIF Board Member & Amicus Committee Chair (415) 439-1989,

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Files Amicus Brief in Nevada and Hawaii Marriage Equality Cases

    Brief argues civil unions are inherently unequal and unconstitutional

    OCT. 25, 2013 – San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) filed an amicus curiae brief today with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the right of same-sex couples in Nevada and Hawaii to marry. A three-judge panel from the court will hear Jackson v. Abercrombie, on appeal from the District of Hawaii, and Sevcik v. Sandoval, on appeal from the District of Nevada, with the oral argument schedule to be set.

    “The Nevada and Hawaii cases are critically important, because they will likely be the first time a federal court of appeals evaluates a state same sex marriage ban in the wake of the Perry and Windsor decisions,” said Nickolas Kacprowski, partner at Kirkland & Ellis in San Francisco and chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee, referring to the historic decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of this year upholding marriage equality in California and extending federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. “The cases in Nevada and Hawaii will be key precedents in the effort to attain marriage equality in all 50 states, and therefore the need to achieve a favorable outcome before the Ninth Circuit cannot be overstated.”

    The brief argues that the bans on same-sex marriage in Nevada and Hawaii stigmatize gay men and lesbians and their families, expose them to increased discrimination, and deprive them of benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Notably, the availability of civil unions (in Hawaii) or domestic partnerships (in Nevada) for same-sex couples does not cure the marriage bans’ constitutional deficiencies, but creates impermissible state-sponsored separation of a disfavored class.

    More than thirty other civil rights groups joined BALIF on the brief, with pro bono support from the law firm of Munger, Tolles, & Olsen. Jerome C. Roth and Nicole S. Phillis of Munger, Tolles, & Olsen led the effort.

    Click here to view the Press Release as a PDF


    About BALIF

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation’s oldest and largest bar association of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.

  • 29 Oct 2013 8:38 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For immediate release: Please contact

    Julie Wilensky BALIF Board Member & BALIF’s Conference of California Bar Associations Committee Chair

    (510) 839-6824

    Jennifer Orthwein BALIF Board Member

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom Pursues Legislation to Guarantee Hormone Therapy Maintenance for Transgender Inmates

    Resolutions Approved by Conference of California Bar Associations; Effort Moves to Sacramento

    OCT. 29, 2013 - San Francisco – Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is pushing for legislation to require county and city jails and state prisons in California to provide prescribed medicines, including hormone therapies, to inmates, which would significantly protect the rights of transgender inmates. Two BALIF-sponsored resolutions on this topic were approved by the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA) at the CCBA’s annual conference of delegates held October 11-13, 2013. One of the core missions of the CCBA is to help the resolutions approved by the Conference become law. In 2013, sixteen CCBA-sponsored or supported resolutions were approved by the California Legislature and became law.

    "We are excited to have the support of so many local bar associations on this important issue,” said Elizabeth Pritzker, BALIF board member and CCBA delegate. “In the coming months, we are committed to working with CCBA's lobbyist, as well as with fellow supporters and our local State legislators, to bring this to the California Legislature, testify at legislative hearings, and get a bill enacted into law."

    If enacted into law, BALIF’s resolutions will significantly increase access to medical care for transgender inmates, for whom there are no policies or regulations at the city and local level to guide correctional and medical personnel for proper evaluation, assessment, and provision of medical care, and who often encounter extreme bias and misunderstanding by correctional and

    medical staff. The proposals will also provide an enforcement mechanism for failure to provide adequate medical care, which currently does not exist at the state or local level.

    Access to appropriate medical care, including hormones, is necessary to prevent serious medical problems for transgender individuals in prisons and jails. “For transgender individuals, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and attempts, and self-injurious behavior such as cutting and auto-castration are just some of the physical and mental health risks associated with not being able to access adequate and appropriate medical care. These problems are exacerbated as a result of withdrawal from the hormones,” explained Jennifer Orthwein, BALIF board member and pro bono attorney for the Transgender Law Center. “Resistance to providing prescribed hormones often revolves around the belief that treatments for gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria are still experimental. However, we are increasingly seeing this argument fail as hormone treatment has become a widely accepted form of treatment for gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria.”

    Click here to view the Press Release as a PDF


    About BALIF

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) is the nation’s oldest and largest bar association of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons in the field of law. Founded in 1980, BALIF represents its members’ interests in the wider San Francisco Bay Area. BALIF members and supporters include San Francisco Bay Area judges, lawyers, law students and legal workers.

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P.O. Box 193383 San Francisco, CA 94119