2003 Founders' Celebration Events

Visible Equality: Examining the Role & Impact of
Gay & Lesbian Members of the Judiciary

March 24, 2003

In the past ten years, "out" gays and lesbians have made tremendous strides in becoming active members of all levels of our nation's government, from city mayors to members of Congress. But what has representation been like in the judicial branch of government? And more importantly how have gays and lesbians contributed to the work of the judiciary?

"Visible Equality" looked at current and former gay and lesbian members of the judiciary to see what impact their sexual orientation had on getting to and serving on a court. We also examined how being a member of a minority group can affect judicial service. Additionally, "Visible Equality" explored the world of judicial clerks, and provide an opportunity to hear them talk about their experiences, generally, and more specifically about whether their sexual orientation affected any of their work as clerks.

We considerd these issues as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 26, 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas— an equal protection challenge to a state law that only affects people in same-sex relationships. The Lawrence opinion had the potential to reshape the current state of sexual orientation equal protection law.

Schedule of Events

9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Panel I: Law Clerks

11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Keynote Address

12:30 p.m. -1:15 p.m.

1:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Panel II: Judges - Federal, State, and Administrative

3:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks

Distinguish Speakers

Hon. Michael R. Sonberg
Judge, Bronx Criminal Court (N.Y.)
Immediate Past President of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges

Len Brecker
Sr. Litigation Counsel, District of Columbia Office of the Corporation Counsel. Former Law Clerk, Hon. Potter Stewart, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Andrea Ritchie
Law Clerk, Hon. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Brita Dagmar Strandberg
Associate, Goldberg, Godles, Wiener & Wright
Former Law Clerk, Hon. William Wayne Justice, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas; Hon. David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Hon. Deborah A. Batts
Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Hon. Thomas R. Chiola
Judge, Cook County Circuit Court (Ill.)
Chairman Sub-committee on Sexual Orientation of the Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Sexual Orientation Awareness in the Court for the Circuit Court of Cook County

Hon. William G. Kocol
Administrative Law Judge, National Labor Relations Board
First Vice President Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference

Chai R. Feldblum
Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center