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  • 02 Mar 2017 2:43 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On March 2, 2017, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) and Impact Fund filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. The case, brought by 17-year old Gavin Grimm, challenges a school board’s resolution that facially discriminates against transgender students based on sex regarding the use of sex-segregated restrooms. The lawsuit argues the bathroom policy is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment and violates Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools.

    The amicus brief demonstrates that the board’s policy is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. The brief explores the current treatment of transgender people under federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination and shows that penalizing transgender people because of their transgender identity or their perceived non-conformity with gender stereotypes is prohibited discrimination.

    “Federal courts across the country have consistently concluded that discrimination against transgender people, which often takes the form of sex stereotyping, violates laws prohibiting sex discrimination,” said Julie Wilensky, Chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee. “The policy at issue in Gavin’s case is no different.”

    Lindsay Nako, Jocelyn Larkin, and Lynnette Miner of Impact Fund are counsel for amici.

    In addition to BALIF and Impact Fund, a broad coalition of 45 bar associations and non-profit and legal advocacy organizations joined the brief: Advocates for Children of New York, Inc., Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association, AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Bar Association of San Francisco, Bet Tzedek, BiLaw, California Employment Lawyers Association, 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, Equality California, Equality Federation, Equality Florida Institute, Equality NC, Equality New Mexico, Equality Ohio, Equality Utah, Garden State Equality, Hawai`i LGBT Legal Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project, Kansas City Lesbian, Gay and Allied Lawyers, Legal Aid at Work, Legal Aid Society, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, 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, OutFront Minnesota, QLaw, Queen’s Bench Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area, SacLEGAL, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston, Tom Homann LGBT Law Association, and Virginia Equality Bar Association.

  • 28 Feb 2017 9:59 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF)

    Statement Regarding the Trump Administration’s Attacks on Transgender Students

    February 23, 2017 – San Francisco, California

    We are heartbroken and outraged President Trump’s administration rescinded guidelines that directed schools to allow students to use restrooms and participate in activities that correspond with their gender identity, as well as the Department of Justice's recent withdrawal from a court challenge related to that guidance. These actions signal a complete lack of compassion for some of our most vulnerable members of society: our trans and gender variant youth. These decisions fail to contemplate the scientific facts that supported this guidance and the reasoning applied by our Courts in affirming Title IX protects transgender and gender variant students.

    The guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice last May was informed by the alarming statistics from multiple social science studies indicating transgender people feel ostracized for their identity and that their high rates of suicide reflect rejection, discrimination, violence, harassment, and the negative life circumstances that result from such treatment. The Obama Administration’s interpretation of Title IX was aligned with mounting case law, as well as our society’s growing understanding of gender and the devastating impact discrimination and oppression has on transgender and gender variant youth. Most importantly, it assured transgender and gender variant students that federal law does, and the federal government will protect them. The guidance signaled acceptance and provided access, factors social scientists have identified as significant in reducing suicide and other negative mental health outcomes among transgender and gender variant youth.

    The Trump administration cannot undo a federal statute. The protections of Title IX and the Constitution remain. The battle over these protections will continue in the Courts and BALIF has, and will continue to play an important role in this battle. We will continue to file amici briefs in critical cases related to transgender students, as we did recently in Carcaño v. McCrory, the case challenging H.B. 2, North Carolina’s discriminatory law, and as we will next week to the U.S. Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. We will continue to support organizations serving LGBTQ youth as we have supported organizations such as LYRIC in the past. We will continue to endorse and support LGBTQ judges on the bench. And we will continue to stand strong, fight for and support all members of our community as we face an onslaught of targeted attacks on our diverse identities and our very existence by this administration.

    Click here to see a PDF of the document.

  • 27 Feb 2017 10:14 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    A great way to serve the LGBT 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. All Directors must attend BALIF's Board Retreat the evening of Saturday, April 22 and during the day on Sunday, April 23.

    To run for the Board or nominate someone else, please send a candidate statement of up to 250 words to Julie Wilensky (secretary@balif.org) and BALIF's Administrator, Katie Carlson (balif@balif.org) by March 27, 2017 at 5:30 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.

    Elections will be online starting on April 3, and there will be an opportunity to vote in person at BALIF's annual general membership meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2017 from 6 - 8:30 p.m. The results will be announced at the end of the meeting.

    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 Julie Wilensky at secretary@balif.org.

  • 24 Feb 2017 10:02 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    On February 24, 2017, BALIF joined 11 other LGBT rights groups and advocacy organizations in submitting an amicus brief in federal district court in Doe v. Arrisi, a case challenging New Jersey’s requirement that people seeking to change the gender marker on their birth certificate must first submit proof that they have had sex reassignment/gender confirmation surgery. The plaintiff also raises disability discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

    The amicus brief, filed in support of the plaintiff's opposition to New Jersey’s motion to dismiss, addresses the importance of allowing people to bring claims under the ADA when they have experienced discrimination on the basis of gender dysphoria. It argues that the ADA’s explicit exclusion of “transsexualism” and “gender identity disorders,” as a matter of statutory interpretation, does not exclude people with gender dysphoria. The brief also argues in the alternative that the ADA’s exclusion is unconstitutional because it violates the guarantee of equal protection.

    Julie Wilensky, chair of BALIF’s Amicus Committee, said, “BALIF is thrilled to join this brief on an important topic at the intersection of transgender rights and disability rights – the ADA’s exclusion of gender identity disorders and the moral animus behind that exclusion.”

    Click here to read the brief.

    Amici are represented by Professor Kevin Barry and the Quinnipiac University School of Law Legal Clinic.

  • 26 Jan 2017 7:52 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF supports participation in the 10 Actions / 100 Days Women’s March Campaign (https://www.womensmarch.com).  A generous donor has donated funds to print 8,000 postcards in support of the First Action:  sending postcards to elected officials and other decision makers on the issues that matter most to you.  Please email chair@balif.org with your name, address, and the number of postcards you would like mailed to you (limit of 100).  Together we can apply pressure to keep elected officials and other decision makers accountable.

  • 24 Jan 2017 10:55 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Our new president is the complete opposite of what we value in our friends.  Our friends are kind; he is mean.  Our friends are elevate women; he grabs and leaves them behind.  Our friends are inclusive; he scrubs diversity out. Our friends are eloquent; his communications are limited to 140 characters. Our friends are compassionate; he is a bigot.  Our friends are generous; he has a business to run.  We will keep that in mind, and value our friendships even more.  Our friends will be there when he is not.  Our friends will march with us and will hold our hands.  BALIF will march with you, and we will be your friends.


  • 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: 





    New Hampshire


    North Carolina



    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!

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