Hi BALIF Members and Friends-
It was great to share drinks and tater tots with so many BALIF members last week at the kickoff happy hour for BALIF's mentorship program. This year, more than sixty BALIF members are participating in the mentorship program. We are grateful to this year's mentors - including judges, partners at large and small firms, senior public interest and government attorneys, corporate in-house counsel, and solo practitioners - who have committed to sharing their experience with and providing guidance to BALIF's law students and more recently admitted attorneys.
The last week has brought more developments on the marriage equality front. On September 3, a federal judge in Louisiana upheld Louisiana's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the first time a federal court has ruled in favor of marriage discrimination post-Windsor. But on September 4, in cases in which BALIF filed an amicus brief, the Seventh Circuit unanimously affirmed district court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana. Commentators have already called Judge Posner's opinion, which has some zingy sound bytes about drunk heterosexuals and elderly first-cousin marriages, a potential roadmap for the Supreme court. Closer to home, on September 8 in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit heard arguments about same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada in Latta v. Otter, in which BALIF filed an amicus brief, and Sevcik v. Sandoval.
In other LGBT news, the California Senate recently passed AB 2501, which would ban people from using "trans panic" or "gay panic" defenses in court. Such defenses seek to excuse crimes such as murder or assault on the grounds that the victim's gender identity or sexual orientation is to blame for the defendant's violent reaction. The bill, which was passed by the Assembly this year, is headed to the Governor's office. BALIF sent a letter of support for AB 2501 to the Governor last week and we are very hopeful he will sign the bill. If Governor Brown signs the bill, California will be the first state to enact such a law.
Have a great week everyone!
BALIF Young Lawyers & Law Students Chair