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  • 07 Jul 2020 2:27 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    ICYMI, we hosted and recorded our first Social Justice Summer session in conversation with local non-profits  St. James Infirmary (HIV Services Manager, Juba Kalamka);  TAJA's Coalition (Executive Director, Akira Johnson); and Lyon-Martin (Trans Health Consultant, JM Jaffe) to raise awareness and funds to support our trans and BIPOC LGBTQI community.  Listen here, and check out these great orgs!


  • 15 Jun 2020 12:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Today the U.S. Supreme Court finally extended Title VII's protections to employees who face discrimination because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  In the 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch, the Court resolved a circuit split in favor of interpreting discrimination on the basis of "sex" in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and affirmed that discrimination on the basis of sex need not be the sole reason an employee is terminated to incur Title VII liability. 

    In the Court's own words, "An individual's homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions." These decisions include the selection, evaluation, compensation and/or termination of an employee.  This simple statement is monumental to our community in that it validates that our rainbow of sexualities and gender identities has no bearing on our ability to perform in the workplace.  By extension, our sexualities and gender identities should have no bearing on access to healthcare, housing, education, and other services and opportunities. 

    In stating that "homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex," the Court accepted the argument many of us have been making for why discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, queer, or intersex person is no different from discriminating against someone because they are male or female according to the statute's unambiguous, plain, and broad command. Last Friday, on the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, the Trump administration finalized a rule implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a way that excludes from the interpretation of "sex" protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and pregnancy status in health care.  BALIF anticipates today's ruling will result in the invalidation of this rule as discriminatory and unlawful because the ACA's Section 1557 mandate is based on Title IX, which mirrors the language of Title VII.  Similarly, BALIF expects today's ruling to impact over 100 federal statutes referenced in Justice Alito's dissent (see Appendix C) such that these statutes will now necessarily include protection for LGBTQI+ individuals.  Many state statutes also mirror the language of Title VII. 

    While equality and justice for our community has been delayed for decades in many facets of our lives, today as a country we take a major step towards that place over the rainbow where we strive to arrive: a world where LGBTQI+ people live with dignity and equality under the law.  Now we must march on, locking arms with other underserved and underrepresented communities in an intersectional approach to achieving equality.  

    We reiterate our call to dismantle systemic racism.  Despite today's ruling, there will still remain critical gaps in our federal non-discrimination law.   LGBTQI+ Americans have long lived with the fear we may lose our jobs, be denied opportunities, be denied healthcare, or even lose our lives.  Many Americans still face such fears simply because of who they are.  Black and African-American people in particular continue to face much of the same oppression and violence that the Civil Rights Act was intended to guard against.  The legal rights secured today for the LGBTQI+ community derive from the same sentence that affords rights based on race.  We cannot affirm the rights for LGBTQI+ people without affirming the rights of those discriminated on the basis of race, color, religion, and/or national origin too.  Onward, together! 

    Sincerely,


     

    Daniel H. Galindo
    BALIF Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Chair


      

    Amanda Hamilton & Jeff Kosbie
    BALIF Co-Chairs

    On behalf of the BALIF Board

    A link to the full opinion is available here: 

    https://d2qwohl8lx5mh1.cloudfront.net/8hVHe52Cq4sPdF0wEaTaCQ/content

  • 12 Jun 2020 10:37 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    BALIF Members-

    In celebration of Pride, to ring in BALIF's New Year (which starts on July 1, 2020), and in recognition of the current financial crisis caused by COVID-19, we are automatically extending all existing BALIF memberships through the end of our 2020-2021 fiscal year -- June 30, 2021 -- for free! We are also offering free memberships to all members of the LGBTQ+ legal community who have recently graduated from law school (Class of 2020) and/or that are currently unemployed.  

    As noted previously, we recently transitioned to a new payment processor and updated our membership structure from a rolling annual subscription to one that tracks our July 1 to June 30 fiscal year. While we had spent many weeks planning and preparing for a smooth transition, we unfortunately were not able to anticipate and prevent the numerous hiccups that occurred and we are very sorry for any confusion that this has caused. 

    Our members deserve better. To right this wrong, the BALIF board unanimously approved an extension of all memberships to expire June 30, 2021. This means that existing members will all have their membership renewal dates changed, regardless of when they first joined, to June 30, 2021. Additionally, given the turbulent economic times we live in due to COVID-19, the board has also approved providing one-year memberships for free (expiring June 30, 2021) to the law school Class of 2020 and currently unemployed lawyers. Please help spread the word and help us grow our BALIF community. Folks who would like to take advantage of this special offer should email balif@balif.org

    For planning purposes, please note that all previous memberships that were enrolled in auto-renew, no longer have saved payment information. Previously auto-renewing memberships are no longer set to auto-renew and there is a 30-day grace period for renewal. This means that old and new memberships will remain active through the following year (2021-2022) as long as they are renewed before July 30, 2021. New members will be automatically set to auto-renew when they sign up to be a member, but old members who would like to auto-renew will need to log into their BALIF account (sometime before July 30, 2021) and re-enter their preferred payment information.

    All of these changes will come at the cost of more than $34K in membership dues that we were otherwise set to receive during 2020-2021. We kindly ask those of you who have the means to do so to help us recoup some of this cost and/or prevent extended losses by donating to BALIF at www.balif.org/donate.

    With professional networking events, educational programs, social action, community activism, advocacy with proposed state legislation, judicial appointments, amicus briefs, mentoring new lawyers and law students, and more, there are many ways to plug into BALIF and make an impact in and get support from our community! We encourage you to reach out to us with suggestions, comments, concerns, and questions by emailing us at membership@balif.org.


    Sincerely,

    Michael Nguyen & Christine Capuyan
    BALIF Membership Committee Co-Chairs
    membership@balif.org

  • 09 Jun 2020 1:28 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear BALIF Member:

    If you walk outside, turn on the news, or access social media, you are aware that we are in the midst of an unprecedented moment in history.  The protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd have galvanized wide swaths of the country to coalesce against systemic racism, police brutality, and abuse of force.  Along with putting out a Call to Action and condemning police brutality, the Board is planning concrete actions to address these issues from within.  To that end BALIF has voted to make a monetary donation of $1,800 distributed to Black Lives Matter, the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), and Flying Over Walls/SF Chapter Black & Pink.  Several of our Board Members have also made individual donations to these and other organizations.  We encourage those of you who can to do the same.  Below you will find a list of suggested organizations in addition to the recipients of BALIF’s donation.

    BALIF is planning a forum for our members to address the ways in which we can support Black and African American communities and to take action towards our stated commitments in our Call to Action.  We are also exploring avenues to train BALIF members to provide legal defense to those arrested during protests and serve as legal observers.  Please be on the lookout for more information about these opportunities.  

    BALIF has also organized a remote/telephone pro bono clinic in partnership with the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center on June 13, 2020 from 11 am to 4 pm.  Please let your clients, contacts, and general members of the community know about the clinic.  Members of the community can register by going to https://www.oaklandlgbtqcenter.org/legal-clinic, calling 510-882-2286, or e-mailing activism@balif.org.  The areas of law to be counseled on include: Family, Immigration, Employment, Healthcare, Trust & Estates law; Name/Gender Marker Change, Military Discharge Upgrade; and VA Benefits and Unemployment Benefits.

    On behalf of the Board,

    Daniel H. Galindo
    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
    Conference of California Bar Associations Committee Chair


    Anti Police-Terror Project: http://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/ 

    Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund: https://rally.org/ARCbailfund

    Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019 

    Black Organizing Project: http://blackorganizingproject.org

    Families United for Justice: http://fu4jgroup.website/index.html 

    Flying Over Walls/SF Chapter Black & Pink: https://flyingoverwalls.wordpress.com/

    Justice Teams Network: https://justiceteams.org/new-page 

    Law Enforcement Accountability Network: https://www.lean4change.org/ 

    National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco: https://nlgsf.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=3 

    Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project: http://www.tgijp.org/donate.html 

    Youth Justice Coalition in LA: https://youthjusticela.org/donate2yjc/ 

    Young Women’s Freedom Center: https://www.youngwomenfree.org/donate/ 


  • 09 Jun 2020 1:03 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    Do you want to get more involved in BALIF? Have a say in how BALIF is run and join the Board of Directors! 

    BALIF's bylaws require gender parity on the Board, with an equal number of positions allocated to Directors who identify as male, female, and transgender/gender non-conforming/gender-variant (TGNC). One board position remains open under the TGNC category, but the Board has the authority to appoint a member of any gender. 

    If you are interested in being considered for this opening, please email a brief candidate statement (up to 250 words) to nominations@balif.org no later than Monday June 29 at 5:00pm. Please explain your relationship to BALIF and/or why you are interested in joining the BALIF Board.

    BALIF seeks a Board that reflects the diversity of our LGBTQI legal community, and we thank all BALIF members for their continued support of BALIF. Please email BALIF's Administrator, Katie Carlson, at balif@balif.org with any questions you may have. 

  • 30 May 2020 2:49 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    The Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) Board of Directors is deeply disturbed and saddened by the events that have unfolded across the country in the last couple of weeks.  These events have reemphasized our country's history of violence against Black and African-American communities.  We condemn the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the harassment of Christian Cooper, and the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade and the unacceptable countless other similar tragedies.  Enough is enough.

    BALIF condemns the deep injustice and pain this violence has inflicted on the families of those lost and the community at large.  This violence affects all of us.  BALIF must stand with the various Black and African-American communities during these painful times and always against police misconduct, bias, discrimination, and harassment on the basis of race, whether actual or perceived.  BALIF is a community of LGBTQI+ legal professionals that envisions a world where LGBTQI+ people live with dignity and equality under the law.  BALIF's mission is to lead our LGBTQI+ legal community through advocacy, justice, community empowerment, and professional development.  BALIF is committed to advancing the interests of all marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved communities through our power as an organization of attorneys.  We know we cannot fully realize our mission without advocating against the daily violence facing our Black and African-American community members.  While the State of Georgia and the Hennepin County Attorneys General have brought formal charges against those involved in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, justice has been unduly delayed for them and others.  We call for justice to be served, equally and fairly, and for these extrajudicial killings to end now.  BALIF has joined many other LGBT organizations in a letter committing to combating racial violence.  You can read the letter here.

    We call on our members to similarly oppose the over-policing of and violence towards Black, African-American, and POC communities by calling for police accountability, oversight, and the fair administration of the judicial process to ensure justice is served.  As members of the LGBTQI+ legal community we have a distinct role to play in the fight for equality.  As members of the LGBTQI+ community, we occupy intersecting identities stemming from our gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), physical and/or mental disability, and other characteristics.  And with this intersectionality, we have a special duty to not only fight for equality for ourselves, but for others within our community, our allies, and other marginalized communities who bear dual consciousness of their LGBTQI+ identity and race, and thus are doubly victims of bias and discrimination.  We must extend the political power some of us have achieved to those marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved communities that still suffer, for none of us shall find true liberation until all of us can live our lives with dignity and the equal protection of the justice system. 

    We cannot stand by as another Black, African-American or other person of color is murdered for going on a jog, bird watching, or encountering the police.  As Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent in Utah v. Strieff

    We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.'  They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.

    In solidarity, we invoke our members to take action in the way they individually find meaningful and possible to advance the issue.  We also invite our members to read Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual, created by the ACLU and designed to provide context, tools, and avenues to take action

    Lastly, we would like to encourage our members to continue providing feedback to the Board by emailing the Chairs at chair@balif.org or diversity@balif.org and to continue bringing issues of importance to our attention.  Please reach out to each other and those in your lives who are feeling impacted by this violence.  We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those lost and wish all of you reading this message safety and good health.


    On behalf of the BALIF Board,

    Daniel H. Galindo, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer

    Conference of California Bar Associations Committee Co-Chair

  • 20 May 2020 4:15 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    The BALIF Foundation has awarded the 2020 Summer Fellowship to Nahlee Lin is a rising 1L at UC Berkeley School of Law.  Over the summer, Nahlee will be interning at Oasis Legal Services, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive legal immigration services to low-income, LGBTQIA+ clients.   At Oasis, Nahlee’s internship will be focused on assisting LGBTQIA+ immigrants in applying for asylum and supporting these clients through the asylum process from beginning to end. Oasis serves hundreds of LGBTQIA+ asylum applicants annually with a success rate of 99%. 

    Congratulations to Nahlee Lin! 

  • 21 Apr 2020 4:13 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    • Thank you to those of you who were able to attend our 40th Anniversary Gala: Over the Rainbow on March 6, 2020.  We were grateful our event was able to move forward, as the restrictions around COVID-19 canceled and postponed events like ours soon thereafter.  Our gala brought over 500 of us together and allowed us to celebrate 40 amazing years as an organization.  Thanks to our sponsors and individual ticket purchases, we raised over $200,000 with 85 sponsors, over a fifth of whom were brand new supporters of the BALIF gala.  Check out the photos here or on our Facebook page. We hope you had a blast, and we look forward to seeing you again soon! 

      Congratulations again to our awardees:

    •  Oasis Legal Services (2020 Legal Services Award) Oasis Legal Services is a leading legal services provider for LGBTQ immigrants on the West Coast, serving hundreds of asylum seekers every year. Through holistic representation Oasis empowers our clients to ensure those fleeing persecution are protected from deportation so they can live safely and love freely. 
       
    • Openhouse (2020 Community Service Award)  For over 20 years, Openhouse has enabled San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQ seniors to overcome the unique challenges they face as they age by providing housing, direct services and community programs. Right now, they’re partnering with Mon Ami to mobilize hundreds of volunteers to address food insecurity and social isolation.  If you would like to volunteer your time, you can find more information here.

    •  BALIF Founders (2020 Trailblazers Award) See the founders’ video here.

    Don’t be a stranger!

    The BALIF Gala is often the one time of year we can count on seeing old and new faces, whether members or not, in celebration of our wonderful organization and all the good we do for the LGBTQI legal community.  We hope you will stay connected and engaged with us!  We’ve just elected our 2020-2021 Board, and are so proud of our 2019-2020 Board and how much we have accomplished in a year!  We want to hear from you about how we can best support and serve our members through the coming months. Hope to see you at the next (virtual) happy hour

    Amanda Hamilton & Mark Fickes
    2020 Gala Committee Co-Chairs


  • 25 Feb 2020 10:17 AM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)


    Thinking about running for the BALIF board, or know someone who should run? BALIF seeks a board that reflects the diversity of our LGBTQI legal community, and we especially encourage people of color, women, transgender people, and non-binary/gender non-conforming people to run for the Board. 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. Serving on the BALIF board is a great way to serve the LGBTQI legal community by developing the programming and events that support BALIF’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession on behalf of all LGBTQI people.

    How To Run
    To run for the Board or nominate someone else, please send a candidate statement of up to 250 words to our secretary (secretary@balif.org) and BALIF's Administrator, Katie Carlson (balif@balif.org) by April 2, 2020 at 5:30 pm. BALIF's bylaws require gender parity on the Board, with an equal number of positions allocated to Directors who identify as male, female, and trans/gender non-conforming. The following seats are open in this election: 3 trans/gender non-conforming seats; 2 male seats; 1 female seat; and 3 law student representative seats. Please indicate in your statement whether you are running for the male, female, or trans/gender non-conforming seats.

    Board Member Expectations

    The board retreat is currently set for May 2 and May 3, 2020, subject to change based on shelter-in-place requirements. All board members must attend the retreat. Board members are generally expected to attend monthly board meetings. We are a working board, and therefore it is expected that Directors actively support BALIF by organizing programs, attending events, participating in our mentoring program, and through other means. Board members generally find service on the board to be very rewarding, and the time commitment manageable.

    Due to COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place order, elections will be held solely online. After the deadline for candidate statements closes, BALIF will announce the names of the candidates and will circulate instructions on how to vote online. 

    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 balif@balif.org.

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