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  • 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 (  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 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 .

    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 .

    Reminder:  Get your absentee ballot 

    If you are thinking of traveling, request an absentee ballot soon.  Each state has its own procedures, e.g., . 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: .

    Can I forward this email to friends?

    Yes.  Please ask them to register with Victory Counsel here:  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!

  • 12 Jun 2016 4:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF extends outrage and sorrow for the victims of the Orlando massacre, for their families and friends, and for queer and people of color all across the world who remain the target of hate and homophobia.

    Please join us at 8:00pm tonight at Harvey Milk Plaza for a vigil for the victims in Orlando. And during this Pride month and beyond, please continue marching and demanding justice and change. We are stronger than hate.

  • 20 Apr 2016 3:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF would like to congratulate the following attorneys and law students who were elected to the 2016-2017 BALIF Board:

    Sarah Nicole Davis
    Lauren Putsch
    Peter Catalanotti
    Nick Clements
    Stan Sarkisov
    Alex Touma
    Ashley Pellouchoud

    Law Student Representatives:

    Stephan Ferris
    Sam Potts

  • 08 Mar 2016 5:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release
    : March 8, 2016
    Contact:  John Unruh and Jessica Bogo at

    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) Joins Bar Associations Around California and California State Bar President, David Pasternak to Call on President Obama and Senate to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

    San Francisco, CA – Today, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) joined bar associations from across the state of California to send a letter to President Barack Obama and Senate leaders urging them to heed their constitutional duty to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. The bar associations, representing over 30,000 lawyers throughout the state, called on the president to quickly nominate a qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, and for the Senate to consider that nominee without delay. In addition to BALIF, the signatories to the letter include the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Alameda Country Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, the Yolo County Bar Association, and over a dozen other statewide and local bar associations.  California State Bar President David Pasternak also signed on to the letter in his individual capacity.

    Commenting on the decision to join forces with other bar associations in this effort, BALIF Co-Chair Jessica Bogo said, “BALIF stands with tens of thousands of California lawyers in calling on our nation’s elected officials to fulfill their constitutionally required duties to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.” BALIF is the nation's oldest and largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the field of law.  BALIF’s decision to join in the letter was taken after a vote of the members of its governing board on March 4, 2016.

    In addressing the possibility that the nomination and confirmation process might be thwarted, the letter warns that “[t]he implications of this course of action would be significant, subjecting people in different regions of the country to different legal standards on matters of constitutional importance and leaving open the specter of an unresolved constitutional crisis.”

    The letter goes on to explain that “the framers placed in the hands of the executive and legislative branches of our government a duty to ensure that the third pillar of our democracy, our courts, would be protected from entanglement in partisan politics.” “While careful evaluation and reasoned debate regarding the qualifications of the nominee are central to the Senate’s role to advise and consent, it would undermine the rule of law and risk nullifying the Supreme Court’s power to serve its constitutional role as arbiter of disputes, were the confirmation process to be delayed until a new president is inaugurated.”

    With the issuance of this letter, bar associations representing the two most populous cities in the United States, New York and Los Angeles, have now called on the Senate to consider a nominee to the Supreme Court without delay. The California letter comes on the heels of similar calls by the New York State and New York City Bars  respectfully requesting the Senate to reconsider its refusal to consider a nominee put forward by the president. Constitutional law scholars at universities around the country have also weighed in via a joint statement, pointing out that the Constitution “has no exception for election years.”

    The letter signed by the California bar associations ends, “We ask that you carry out your constitutionally prescribed roles with full fealty to the oaths you have taken so that our Supreme Court is returned to its full membership.”


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