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  • 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!

  • 26 Aug 2020 3:51 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)

    Once again, we are horrified at the latest police shooting of an unarmed Black man. It seems like each time gets more perverse and vile. But the truth is this has been happening for all of America’s history. If you witnessed the shooting of Jacob Blake, it is abundantly clear that the excessive use of force by the police is endemic to the very structure of the police in our society.  At a time when defunding the police has become a rallying call we must join our voices to radically transform the way we think about law enforcement. We must prioritize visions of law enforcement that center positive and constructive outcomes rather than lethal threats.

    BALIF calls on our members to join us in standing in solidarity with other communities most affected by police violence. Being true allies means taking action to end these injustices, as well as promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our own community, in the broader legal profession, and in our society as a whole. Since our last message concerning police shootings BALIF has put words into actions. A few highlights:

    • Donated $1,800 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Flying Over Walls: Black and Pink, and the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project
    • Planned a training for attorneys wishing to represent protestors or who can crowdsource research and briefing to take place September 29, 2020
    • Called on the Governor to appoint an LGBTQI+ and/or person of color to replace retiring Justice Chin on the Supreme Court of California
    • Collaborated with the California Bar to implement improvements to survey data analysis and questions to adequately represent the overlooked diversity of intersectional identities and transgender attorneys in the annual Diversity Report
    • Participated in a Virtual Legal Clinic with the Oakland LGBT Center
    • Hosted Social Justice Summer events to fund raise with and promote the following Black and Trans-centered advocacy organizations:
      • TAJA Coalition, Lyon-Martin Health Services, Transgender Cultural District, and St. James Infirmary
      • Flying Over Walls: Black and Pink, ABO Comix, and the TGI Justice Project
    • Collaborated to present the following CLE programs:
      • TGI Prison Representation During COVID-19
      • Rising Power: Building an Intersectional Justice Movement in the US, and Diversity in the Legal Profession
      • Recognizing and Dismantling Bias in Law Firms and Private Companies
      • Discrimination, Allyship, and Commonality
      • Discrimination, Allyship, and Intersectionality
    • Are organizing an October 29, 2020 Halloween Fundraiser to benefit the TGI Justice Project, whose mission is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against TGI people in California prisons, jails, detention centers and beyond
    • Increased the number of Board members representing the Black/African-American community
    • Developed a governance structure and mandate for the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee

    Your ongoing support ensures we can continue to uplift our voices against injustice and furthers our mission to lead the LGBTQI+ legal community through advocacy, justice, community empowerment, and professional development. 

    We wish Jacob Blake a full and speedy recovery and hold his family and the community in our hearts.

    Click here to view the statement.

  • 11 Aug 2020 1:26 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)



    Don’t let the pandemic drag you down! Share some of your most fabulous photos, member updates, and coping strategies with the BALIF community in our weekly newsletter! Our communications co-chairs Ari Jones and Michael Trung Nguyen lead off to show their sparkle!

    Email communications@balif.org

  • 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/ 


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