Changes in Gay and Lesbian Rights

Brooklyn Law School’s OUTLaws will hold its 2nd Annual Alumni Dinner and Community Awards Banquet on Tuesday, April 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Forchelli Conference Center, 205 State Street Brooklyn, NY. The theme of this year’s event is “Sea Change: A Year in LGBTQ Rights” recognizing the accomplishments of the gay and lesbian community in the past year. The event also celebrates the launch of OUTLaws’ first-ever pro bono project, the gay and lesbian Brooklyn Legal Assistance Project. BLS alumni, faculty, staff, students, and the general public are invited to attend. Those who want to attend can RSVP by completing the form at this link.

The event’s keynote speaker will be civil rights attorney, educator, radio host, small business owner and 2013 NYC City Council candidate Yetta Kurland, BLS Class of 1997. OUTLaws will present its Alumni Achievement Award to Carol Buell, Class of 1980. Buell is a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Weiss, Buell & Bell. Brad Snyder, Executive Director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL), is the invited guest speaker for the event. In 2012, LeGal in partnership with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and OUTLaws launched of a pro bono legal clinic devoted to serving the gay and lesbian community of Brooklyn. The clinic is hosted at the BLS offices at 1 Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn and meets on alternate Wednesdays.

With this week’s US Supreme Court arguments on the constitutional challenges to California’s ban on same-sex marriage in Hollingsworth v. Perry and the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor which began in the Southern District of New York, the way in which books discuss gay and lesbian rights has changed over the years. The WSJ Law Blog post When the Supreme Court First Wrestled With Gay Rights

 states that in 1958 the Supreme Court issued a 62-word ruling in One, Inc. v. Olesen reversing a ruling in One, Inc. v. Olesen, 241 F. 2d 772 where the Ninth Circuit found a magazine to be “morally depraving and debasing” singling out an article titled “Sappho Remembered” about a lesbian’s influence on a young woman coping with married life. The Circuit Court called the article “nothing more than cheap pornography calculated to promote lesbianism.” In Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court (Call # HQ76.8.U5 M87 2002) by Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price, the authors write that the decision was close, decided only after Justice Tom Clark changed his position and Justice Charles Evans Whittaker agreed to be the fifth vote.

That discussion of legal issues on gay and lesbian rights stands in stark contrast to that in recent items in the BLS Library collection. See Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples (Call # KF750 .B87 2012) by Joan M. Burda. The book is a tool for lawyers handling legal issues for gays and lesbians. Chapters include information on wills and trusts, children, estate planning, and dealing with senior gay and lesbian clients.