vol. 3, no. 7
Gay Legal Conference Held
by KELLY KAY-
NEW YORK - Three hundred gay
lawyers, law students and others interested in the legal profession participated in a national conference entitled "Law and the Fight for Gay
Rights" held March 10 - 11 on the
campus of New York University.
Sponsored by Lesbian and Gay Law
Students of the New York University
School of Law and the Rutgers Gay
Caucus, in conjunction with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund,
Inc., the conference focussed on the
gay lawyer's role in the struggle for
recognition of gay people's civil rights.
Most of the conference's activity
took place in a series of workshops,
which covered topics as varied as child
custody, immigration, and criminal
A proposal to form a gay bar association was considered by the conference, which voted to postpone the
action until an assessment of the need
for such an organization could be made.
Participants did vote to hold similar
conferences on an annual basis, and
several persons suggested that the next
one be held in the South.
Newly elected New York Attorney
General Robert Abrams delivered the
conference keynote address, in which
he reaffirmed his "commitment to advance the causes of gay people in the
courts." The New York attorney
general expressed an understanding of
gays' problems vis-a-vis the law far
above that of his Texan counterparts.
Discussion during the workshops
centered on strategies for increasing
the legal protection currently afforded
gays by the law.
Wayne Dynes, President of the New
York Gay Academic Union, pointed
out that although gays have made
definite legal advances, judges often
ignore prior pro-gay-rights court judgments and most policemen are still
prejudiced against homosexuals. Dynes
was joined by many, including Tess
Siegel, a straight New York lawyer
who boasted that she has never lost a
gay client's case, in voicing the need to
educate the public in order to dispel
the many myths about homosexuality.
John Ward, a Boston attorney and
Executive Director of Gay and Lesbian
Advocates and Defenders, warned lawyers representing gay clients to avoid
defenses which are just as homophobic
as the laws gays are fighting. He gave
the example of the lawyer who defended his client - a divorced gay psychiatrist with five children - by saying,
"This man's not a degenerate, he's a
Jane Trichter, a current city council-
member of New York City who began
her political career as a pro-abortion
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lobbyist, discussed lobbying as a strategy for securing gay rights. Referring
to her involvement in the unsuccessful attempt to pass a New York City
gay rights package, Trichter said that
it is important that there be a close
working relationship between the sponsors of any gay rights bill and as broad
a spectrum as possible of the gay community.
Steve Endean, Executive Director of
Gay Rights National Lobby in Washington, D.C., agreed with Trichter that
the weakest part of the gay movement
is its community organization. Endean
explained that no lobbyist can be
effective without "a constituency network" organized to support his efforts.
For example, he said, an organization
called Christian Voice - which fights
against gay rights, abortion, affirmative
action, etc. - can mobilize 100,000
members to contact their legislators
when an important issue or vote comes
before Congress. Endean said that gays
must be organized to the point that
they can apply just as much or more
pressure on their legislators.
Trichter encouraged gays to run their
own candidates for elected offices when
possible, even if success seems unlikely.
She said that even lost campaigns are
productive, because they build the
candidate's name recognition and credibility, as well as mobilize support and
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Invoking the
"moral teachings of the Catholic
Church," the Georgetown University
administration has overturned a student
government decision to grant official
campus recognition to Gay People
of Georgetown, a student organization.
The administration said that "while
the University supports and cherishes
the individual lives and rights of its
students it will not subsidize this
cause. Such an endorsement would
be inappropriate for a Catholic university."
With little opposition, the Georgetown Student Senate had upheld a
decision by the Student Activities
Nat'l Gay Law
in the Future
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment,
and pubUc accomodations has been
introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives but probably will not receive a hearing in the Education and
Labor Committee or the Judiciary
Committee to which it has been referred. The measure, co-sponsored by
representatives Henry Waxman (D.Calif.) and Theodore Weiss (D.-NY)
is not matched by a corresponding
bill in the Senate.
Lobbyist Steve Endean.
Similar attempts in past years have
met similar fates. No gay-rights bill has
ever been introduced in the Senate and
none of the bills introduced in the
House has ever received a hearing.
Steve Endean of the Gay Rights
National Lobby says Federal laws
protecting lesbians and gay men should
not be expected soon. "Anyone who
believes in a quick effort - even five
years - is fooling themselves," he says.
"It could be as much as 10 to 15 years
before we get a bill." Endean believes
hearings on gay-rights bills shouldn't
be held until grass-roots support has
been developed, probably within another three years.V
Commission to recognize the group.
"The students are behind us," a local
gay activist said. "The students are
willing to listen to people who are
different from them; the students
are willing to radically confirm our
basic human rights ... If there is any
part of the university that needs to
be educated ... it is the administration ."V
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