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  • 29 Mar 2022 6:33 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    A great way to serve the LGBTQI legal community and become more involved in BALIF is to join BALIF's Board of Directors. BALIF's Directors are elected by the BALIF membership and each Director holds office for two years. Any BALIF member is welcome to run for the Board or nominate another BALIF member. BALIF seeks a board that reflects the diversity of our LGBTQI legal community, and we specifically encourage people of color, women, transgender people, and non-binary/gender non-conforming people to run for the Board.

    To run for the Board or nominate someone else, please send a candidate statement of up to 250 words to our secretary ( and BALIF's Administrative Director, Katie Carlson ( by April 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm. BALIF's bylaws require gender parity on the Board, with a certain number of positions allocated to Directors who identify as male, female, or other genders (a broad category including but not limited to non-binary, genderqueer, gender variant, and gender non-conforming). So if you are seeking a position, please indicate the category under which you plan to run. If you are interested in receiving an endorsement from the Nominating Committee, please submit your candidate statement no later than April 10, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

    Elections will be held online from April 15 to April 26. BALIF's annual general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2022 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. to meet the 2022-2023 Board and give the membership a year-end update.

    Thinking about seeking a position? Know someone who would make a fabulous addition to the Board? Want to learn more about BALIF and what's involved in being on the Board? Please contact Katie at

  • 02 Sep 2021 9:23 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF's New Lawyers Committee is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 Mentorship Program! BALIF's incredibly successful mentorship program is back and we're hoping to recruit eager law students, post-bar graduates, and lawyers of every experience level to receive mentorship from a wide array of legal backgrounds and life experiences. As any lawyer will tell you, mentoring is an integral part to any professional's success in their career. 

    If you are interested in applying to be either a mentee or mentor (or both if you're a practicing lawyer!), please follow the links to the appropriate application (all responses are confidential, and the entire application can be completed in 5 minutes). Applications will close Thursday, September 30th, and pairings will be released at BALIF's Annual Mentor/Mentee Happy Hour, which will take place in October. Please check your email and the BALIF newsletter for updates. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to Monica Valencia or Myell Mergaert at

    Click here for the Mentee Application.

    Click here for the Mentor Application.

  • 30 Aug 2021 9:19 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear BALIF Member,

    This fall, Californians will decide on whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom from office.  

    As members and allies of LGBTQI+, BIPOC, immigrant, and other marginalized communities and identities, we cannot sit out this important election. If more than 50% of Californians vote to unseat Gov. Newsom, the replacement candidate with the most votes becomes governor. The outcome impacts us and our most vulnerable at a critical time in the pandemic.  

    Let us be clear: BALIF is not staking out a partisan position in calling on our members to oppose the election. BALIF is taking a stand for the integrity of our future democratic processes, not yielding ground to hard-won civil rights and liberties, and most importantly, protecting the rights of the LGBTQI+ community, immigrants and BIPOC, women, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, and so many others.

    The BALIF Board strongly recommends you vote “No” on the gubernatorial recall.  

    August 30th is the last day to register to vote by mail. After which, voting may be done at a polling place, vote center or your county elections office through Election Day, September 14th.


    BALIF Board of Directors

  • 19 Mar 2021 6:59 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    We write on behalf of BALIF, as the nation’s oldest LGBTQIA+ bar association, to express our rage, grief, and condolences for the victims and their families affected by the shootings on March 16, 2021 in the Atlanta area at three massage parlors, the Gold Massage Spa, Young’s Asian Massage, and Aroma Therapy Spa.  As of this writing, an FBI Director and Georgia Sheriff stated that the shootings do not appear to be racially motivated.  However, of the eight people murdered on Tuesday, six were of Asian descent, and seven were women.  Not only was race a factor, but gender and an anti-sex work animus played a role as well. Organizations like Red Canary Song, a grassroots Chinese massage parlor worker coalition, have eloquently written about how to radically heal and mourn, and we want to uplift those voices in solidarity with the AAPI community and affirm BALIF’s commitment to work towards for a future in which low-wage workers, Asian and Asian-Pacific American/Asian-Pacific Islanders (AAPI) people, sex workers, and women are protected and respected to allow them to peacefully labor, prosper, and survive.

    Much has been said about stopping AAPI hate following this tragedy, and daily incidents of brutal violence against Asian elders in the Bay Area continue to come to light, coupled with the exponential increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community since the start of the pandemic.  These stories hit home for us, our families and friends, and our broader communities. 

    Esther K., a co-director of Red Canary Song, recently said in a Guardian article, “Removing the anti-sex-work component really removes the crux of what this specific kind of racism is about: the fetishization of Asian women’s bodies, the objectification of their bodies and the assumption that Asian women are obviously going to be providing sexual services at massage parlors,” and “the conflation of massage parlors and sex workers without any nuance is very specific to anti-Asian racism against Asian women.”  Due to sexist racialized perceptions of Asian women, especially those engaged in vulnerable, low-wage work, Asian massage workers are harmed by the criminalization of sex work, regardless of whether they engage in it themselves. 

    As a call to action, please consider signing up for the Bay Area Workers Support (BAWS), Attorney Referral Network to offer legal help to support sex workers. BAWS welcomes any sex worker allied attorneys in any field and experience level. If you are interested in being on this referral list please fill out the form or you can contact for more information about this project. This Sunday, GAPA is coordinating a rally and march beginning at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco at 11:00am. Please follow the event on Facebook for more information.  For more AAPI Anti-Hate Community Resources, please check out our BALIF Community Forum.

    BALIF supports the AAPI community in condemning these heinous acts that occurred on March 16, 2021.  If you are an ally, please educate yourself and others.  Look out for those in the AAPI community, train yourselves, and be there for others.  We ask you to all be gentle to yourselves, and give yourself some space and breaks to process, grieve, reflect, and express your anger.

  • 26 Jan 2021 1:18 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    The BALIF Foundation is dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQI judges on the bench through educational programming, supporting LGBTQI community organizations, and providing scholarships, summer stipends, and fellowships for LGBTQI law students and young attorneys seeking to help the LGBTQI community through legal work. 

    In 2020, we made donations to ALRP, the Transgender Law Center, and the BALIF Halloween Fundraiser benefiting TGIJP, in addition to awarding the below awards, fellowships and scholarships:  

    Inaugural Julius Turman Award - Rachel Schiff 

    Rachel Schiff graduated from UC Davis School of Law Class in 2020.  Rachel's accomplishments include hosting one of the law school's first Trans Day of Remembrance events and founding the UC Davis School of Law Gender Name Change Project in 2018, which serves trans and gender nonconforming youth seeking name and gender changes. The Project has assisted over 100 individuals since its inception.  Rachel is currently clerking in the Eastern District of California  

    BALIF Foundation Summer Fellowship - Nahlee Lin

    Nahlee Lin is a 2L at Berkeley Law, where she serves as a Co-Chair of the Womxn of Color Collective, Associate Editor on the California Law Review, and research assistant at the Othering & Belonging Institute. She has also interned at the Health & Welfare Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, served as a student counselor at the Workers' Rights Clinic, and volunteered at TGIJP Legal Mail Clinics. During her 1L summer, she worked at Oasis Legal Services assisting LGBTQIA+ immigrants to apply for asylum.   

    APABA-SV and BALIF Foundation Joint Scholarship - Ernest Fok

    Ernie is a 3L at Santa Clara University School of Law for the 2020-21 academic year. He is a member of Santa Clara Law's Equity, Justice and Engagement Committee, current Co-President of the Santa Clara Law Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, and former Co-President for EQSCU, Santa Clara Law's LGBT law student organization. After law school, Ernie will join Weil Gotshal's Silicon Valley office as a patent litigation associate, and he will continue to promote and advocate for the Asian American and LGBT legal community throughout his legal career.

    FBANC Foundation and BALIF Foundation Pamilya Joint Scholarship - Idrian Mollaneda 

    Idrian Mollaneda is a 3L at UC Berkeley School of Law.  He currently serves as an associate editor for the California Law Review and senior articles editor for the Asian American Law Journal.  Idrian previously served as co-president of the Queer Caucus and the Pilipinx American Law Society at Berkeley.  After graduating, Idrian will join Farella Braun + Martel as a litigation associate.   

    Law Student Association of the Year - Equality Santa Clara (EQSCU)

  • 05 Jan 2021 12:14 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF condemns in no uncertain terms the unprecedented effort by President Trump and GOP Members of Congress to mass-disenfranchise voters by overturning the electoral college vote.  This ongoing assault on our democracy culminated this past weekend with revelations that President Trump directly asked the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” additional votes.  In addition, several GOP Senators and Representatives have stated their intentions to challenge the electoral college votes from key states when Congress meets to count and certify the votes.

    As lawyers, we believe we have a responsibility to speak out and not remain silent when our legal system is threatened.  The President and his allies have mounted dozens of baseless lawsuits promoting a false narrative of voter fraud, but these have been uniformly rejected by courts because there is simply no evidence of fraud.  In many cases, courts have said that the lawsuits do not even allege the existence of fraud.  There is simply no constitutional, legal, or factual basis to support any of these claims.

    The assault on our democracy is particularly dangerous because it perpetuates a revisionist narrative that election protection is a partisan issue.  The past several years have seen an enormous success in increasing voter registration and turnout amongst communities of color and other groups that have historically low participation rates in elections.  We must stand in solidarity with these groups and continue to demand better access to voting and full implementation of voting rights.

    Amanda Hamilton & Jeff Kosbie 
    BALIF Board Co-Chairs

  • 07 Dec 2020 10:43 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    BALIF is excited to host a Holiday Fundraiser to accompany our first ever Virtual Holiday Party! The Fundraiser kicks off today and will last through the end of December. 

    This year, BALIF is honored to raise funds for Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners.  Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners is an all-volunteer organization that, for over 40 years, has fed the community of San Francisco on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Their dinners average a thousand people each holiday and take place at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Franklin Street and Geary Boulevard.

    Tessie was the drag name of Perry Spink, a local performer/bartender who was very familiar with the people and character of the Tenderloin District in San Francisco during the 60’s and 70’s. Legend has it that on Thanksgiving in 1974, he received several turkeys and was inspired to cook and serve them to the local Tenderloin residents (with the help of less-than-sober bar buddies). It was a gesture that showed the San Francisco Community that no matter who you were; there was someone who cared. Read the whole story about Empress Tessie here.

    The Reigning Empress of San Francisco Mimi Osa writes, "I've been volunteering for the past 5 years, and my favorite part is seeing the love shared between the community and those in need. Tenderloin Tessie's Holiday Dinners provide meals but also an atmosphere of decency and respect. Whether people are facing food insecurity or have nowhere else to go, Tenderloin Tessie's volunteers treat every client as a welcomed guest." 

    Please join us in raising some much-needed funds to continue this tradition of feeding the hungry in San Francisco! Whether it is $5 or $500, your contribution to this grassroots organization is appreciated!

    BALIF is a community of LGBTQI+ legal professionals that envisions a world where LGBTQI+ people live with dignity and equality under the law. We value LGBTQI+ Justice & Equality, Community Empowerment & Development, and Diversity & Inclusion. Our mission is to lead our LGBTQI+ legal community through advocacy, justice, community empowerment, and professional development.

  • 05 Oct 2020 5:44 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF is rejoicing today with Governor Newsom's announcement appointing the Honorable Martin J. Jenkins to the Supreme Court of California. Justice Jenkins will be the first openly LGBTQI+ person and only the third African American to serve on the high court. 

    We applaud Governor Newsom's decision to continue leading in the realm of LGBTQI+ equality. On July 9, 2020, BALIF authored a letter joined by other California bar associations calling on Governor Newsom to appoint an LGBTQI+ person and/or a person of color to replace Justice Chin. Read the full letter here. Our court is now more representative of our great and diverse state because of Governor Newsom's wise decision.

    Justice Jenkins was born and raised in the Ingleside neighborhood of San Francisco. He is an alum of City College of San Francisco, Santa Clara University and the University of San Francisco School of Law. Justice Jenkins began his career as a law clerk in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, where he later served as a deputy district attorney. He also served as a prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1989 he was appointed to the Alameda County Municipal Court by Governor Deukmejian. In 1992, Governor Wilson appointed him to the Alameda County Superior Court, where he served until 1997. He then served as a United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California having been appointed by President Clinton. In 2008, Judge Jenkins returned to state court following his appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Court of Appeal. In his retirement from the judiciary, Justice Jenkins has served in the Newsom administration as Judicial Appointments Secretary.  

    In his acceptance speech, Justice Jenkins remarked:

    I want to say to some young person who may be out there watching today who is struggling with their identity. Anyone who knows me knows my identity has been as a gay man perhaps the greatest challenge of my life. And it has not been easy. But I want to say today to those young people who may be watching and those who may hear about what has transpired here: that I'm not here in spite of the struggle, I am here because of the struggle. It has deepened my character, afforded me sensibilities about the world, and about people who are not so willing to accept that people can love differently than they do, but nevertheless love sincerely, genuinely and affectively. I want these young people to know that living a life of authenticity is the greatest gift you can give yourself. And if you do that, you too will find yourself in a position where people see you and really see you and who you are, your authentic self.  And in the extraordinary opportunity I'm being offered today, I thank you, Governor Newsom, for seeing me and I promise to do my best to dispatch the enormous responsibilities that are incumbent with this great office.

    Justice Jenkins' message accepting the nomination is reflective of what his appointment means for Californians and Americans generally. There is no place, including the highest levels of government, that is foreclosed to LGBTQI+ people. Today we move closer to a world where all LGBTQI+ people live with dignity and equality under the law. BALIF was founded to get LGBTQI judges on the bench. At that time there were no openly LGBTQI judges. Today one of us has been nominated to serve on the State Supreme Court!

  • 08 Sep 2020 1:05 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On August 24, 2020, the Supreme Court of California announced that long-time BALIF member Sean SeLegue will be the next Chair of the State Bar of California, effective September 25. SeLegue commented, “I’m very proud to be only the second openly LGBTQ Chair of the State Bar and grateful to BALIF for endorsing me when I ran for election to the State Bar Board in 2016. Since I first joined BALIF nearly 30 years ago and served on the board as a young lawyer, BALIF has been the linchpin of our LGBTQ legal community. We have come a long way in those years, and I am glad BALIF is there to help us continue toward full inclusion of LGBTQ lawyers in our legal system.” SeLegue is a partner at Arnold & Porter, and a former BALIF board member.

    Click Here for Full Article

  • 01 Sep 2020 1:18 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
    This past week, we heard from a trifecta of amazing advocates who work with LGBQAI incarcerated populations: TGIJPFlying Over Walls, and ABO Comix for an evening of zine art, card-writing, and learning! Check out more info here.

    We hope to see you at our Halloween fundraiser on October 29, 2020! 100% of proceeds will go to TGIJP. RSVP today!

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Office: +1 415 874-3045

P.O. Box 193383 San Francisco, CA 94119