Lavender Law

Yesterday I got back from Washington, D.C. where Lavender Law 2016 was held. Hosted by the LGBT Bar Association, Lavender Law collects the most LGBT and ally legal professionals in one place to meet, network, and share ideas on how the American legal system can be reformed to protect and enrich the lives of LGBT people.

Unfortunately, your treasurer couldn’t attend all of the sessions offered and had to plan out which ones I would go to. I focused on sessions that dealt with practical, day-to-day legal issues for LGBT people, such as job and housing discrimination, ending conversion therapy for young people, and fighting state level laws that are transphobic and homophobic, such as North Carolina’s notorious HB2.


The career fair had LGBT-friendly employers including private law firms, corporations, government agencies, and public interest groups.

One common thread through several sessions was expanding the definition of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While obvious forms of discrimination such as firing women have always fallen under Title VII, it is less clear if other forms of sex discrimination such as firing someone if they apply for benefits for a same-sex partner or are harassed with homophobic language also fall under its ambit.

In the 1980s, LGBT advocates tried this legal theory in the courts but were handed a series of setbacks by hostile courts. Recently, much litigation has been focused on overturning this bad legal legacy and it has been met with success in the federal district courts as well as some circuit courts of appeals.

Despite the good news, much remains to be done – a theme that was constantly repeated at the conference. Marriage equality in all 50 states has been a reality for over a year thanks to Obergefell v. Hodges, but LGBT people – and especially transgender people – still interact with a legal system that is at times indifferent and at other times hostile to their lives. Indeed, over 100 bills have been introduced in 22 state legislatures as part of the backlash against queer people.


Panel on job search strategies for law students. Sadly, I’m not as photogenic as these people are but I was there on the left side!

Lavender Law 2017 will be held in San Francisco, CA. Hopefully we’ll be able to send more people from Allies & Advocates in 2017!

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrasing Theodore Parker.

– Trevor Brass, Allies & Advocates Treasurer


One year since Obergefell v. Hodges

June 26th marks the anniversary of several important Supreme Court rulings in LGBTQ history. Most obvious and fresh in the minds of many around the world is June 26th, 2015, when the Supreme Court handed down its holding in Obergefell v. Hodges, and thus extended the right to marry to same-sex couples to all 50 U.S. states. The ruling came after decades of work by millions, from individual court cases to dinner table conversations to efforts big and small to raise the visibility of queer Americans.

But Obergefell isn’t the only seminal Supreme Court ruling to come out on this day. On June 26th 2013, the court held the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. DOMA was a 1996 federal law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages that were recognized at the state level. Its practical effect was to deny things such as spousal Social Security benefits to gay and lesbian couples who were legally wed in their home states. DOMA was enacted well before any American state recognized same-sex marriage (that was Massachusetts in 2004), but was passed in a time when the specter of such an occurrence horrified enough Americans to see it passed.

On the very same day, the court also dismissed an appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Perry v. Brown) that held California’s Proposition 8 invalid. The ballot initiative, called “Prop Hate” by its detractors, was a voter-approved initiative that halted a brief period in 2008 where same-sex marriage was legalized by the California Supreme Court.

10 years before that, the Supreme Court struck down criminal prohibitions against sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas on June 26th, 2003. The case focused on a Texas law that made it a misdemeanor to engage in “deviate sexual intercourse” with someone of the same sex. While the plaintiff was only fined $200 for a by then rarely-enforced law, the decriminalization of the sex lives of gay people was an important milestone in LGBT equality.

So raise a glass folks and celebrate: June 26th represents several important rulings in the history of American jurisprudence with respect to LGBTQ citizens.

Hello (again) world!

Well howdy folks! Allies & Advocates for LGBTQ Equality at the University of Nebraska – College of Law is still alive and kicking, despite appearances from this blog. You will see more updates here, as well as other activity on our Facebook page at

Since law school is a 3 year journey, it can be difficult for student-led groups such as ours to maintain continuity as one group of students matriculates and another takes the reigns. Thankfully, our graduating friends conferred the password to our main Google Account ( so those of us who will be returning for the 2016-2017 academic year will have the “keys to the kingdom,” so to speak.

As in day-to-day law practice, it’s nice when you can stand on the shoulders of those who came before you and not have to re-invent the wheel.

Since this blog was last updated, marriage equality was made a reality for all 50 states in the U.S. thanks to the Supreme Court’s holding in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was decided on June 26, 2015. Nebraska, which had never recognized same-sex marriage and in fact still has a ban on the state constitution (Article I-29), joined the remaining 23 states in recognizing marriage equality.

Unfortunately, despite this major advance, a lot remains to be done. There has been a spate of laws passed at the state level that have nullified local LGBT protections against workplace and housing discrimination, as well as forcing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate.

We’re winning the war, but the battles for equality are not over. Keep your head up friends.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, 2014 2L Summer Law Clerk Program

NOTE: This posting was originally sent via email by the National LGBT Bar Association.

2014 2L Summer Law Clerk Program
Liberty Mutual Insurance Group – A Fortune 100 Company!

The National LGBT Bar Association is pleased to partner with The Liberty Mutual Insurance Group Legal Department to provide an exciting opportunity for two enthusiastic 2L law students who are interested in making an immediate and valued contribution. As a Law Clerk you will provide technical support to staff litigation attorneys, perform legal research and assist in drafting and filing legal trial documents. The National LGBT Bar Association and Liberty Mutual will select one Law Clerk for Liberty’s Boston litigation office and one for its San Francisco litigation office for a 10-week clerkship offering competitive pay.

— Performs legal research utilizing both written and electronic sources
— Assists attorneys in brief and opinion writing
— Prepares draft memos
— Gathers and compiles facts and relevant case information
— Drafts pleadings and motions
— Assists attorneys in preparing for depositions and trials

— Member of the National LGBT Bar Association
— Completed two years at an ABA accredited law school; graduation scheduled for spring 2016
— Excellent writing skills
— 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale or the equivalent
— Ideally some exposure to civil litigation

How to Apply
To apply, you must submit a cover letter, resume, three references, and a copy of your transcript to: Please write “Liberty Mutual Law Clerk” in the subject line of the email. All materials must be received by 5:00 p.m. EST on February 14, 2014. Interviews will be conducted the week of February 23rd. Finalists shall be selected and notified on or before March 3, 2014.

Liberty Mutual believes strongly that commercial success can be achieved in a manner consistent with principles and ideals that bind us together as one company, that set us apart from our competitors, and that in the end will allow us to say we have succeeded commercially by doing the right thing the right way.

We believe that the Company’s success is inextricably linked to our employees’ satisfaction and success: satisfaction that they work for an industry leader committed to improving safety, satisfaction that they work for a company that does the right thing, and satisfaction that the company will reward them for their contributions and provide opportunities for personal growth and success.

We believe our employees take pride in knowing that they help people live safer more secure lives every day.

So, it’s time to get some experience.

It is officially that time of year — the bittersweet season where we return to school and resume our search for summer clerkships/internships (or, for some of us, post-graduate employment!).

Understandably, this is a stressful process. But Allies & Advocates is committed to helping where we can. As we become aware of LGBTQ-related job opportunities, we will be posting descriptions and details for 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls under the “Careers” category of our blog. We will also keep students up-to-date on upcoming funding deadlines, including dates for the Nebraska Fund for Clerkships in the Public Interest (NFCPI) and Americorps funding. While we plan to update our Facebook page often, feel free to check back for new postings and updates. We wish you the best in your legal endeavors!

Support Prairie Pride 2014 on Kickstarter

This year, Lincoln’s own independent LGBTQ film festival, Prairie Pride, is moving to July 2014! However, putting on an entire film festival isn’t easy or cheap. The festival needs your support to continue bringing these great films to Nebraska. Learn more about Prairie Pride and how to support them on Kickstarter:

To back the project, follow the link:

We really hope you take a minute to support the arts and LGBTQ awareness in Lincoln. The Kickstarter account closes on December 15th. Every dollar counts! And, of course, we hope to see you all in July for the festival.

Ally Awareness Day at Nebraska Law

Today, nearly 100 members of the Law College community wore a rainbow ribbon in honor of Ally Awareness Day. Additionally, over 70 of those individuals let us know why they identify as allies:


We have an amazing community here at Nebraska Law and we would like to thank students, staff, and faculty for coming out as allies and showing their support of the LGBTQ community.

“Civil Rights Battles & Marriage Equality: Will It Ever Happen in Nebraska?”

Just a friendly reminder that today, the American Constitution Society and Allies & Advocates will be hosting Susan Herman, President of the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She will be giving a talk at noon in the Welpton Courtroom, entitled:

“Civil Rights Battles and Marriage Equality: Will It Ever Happen in Nebraska?”

Lunch will be provided by Mr. Goodcents. We look forward to seeing you there!