Philadelphia, PA – The import and impact of lawyers — like those working under the rubric of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association — is integral in the continuing fight for LGBTQ equity. This has never been more apparent nor more critical than now. In the past decade, monumental legal cases have challenged and changed discriminatory policies and laws affecting LGBTQ people at all levels of society. Among them have been landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage — United States v. Windsor in 2013, Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, and Bostock v. Clayton County, the 2020 anti-discrimination case in which the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects gay and trans employees against employment discrimination. More recently, in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the U.S. Supreme Court found the City of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment rights to religious freedom of Catholic Social Services (CSS) when the City demanded CSS agree to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.
The many issues that LGBTQ people face underscores the vital need for a group like the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association. The history and growth of the group over the 35 years since its inception in 1986 runs parallel to the changes in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community as a whole. When the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association was founded, it was as a group of 25 attorneys. As Philadelphia Attorneys for Human Rights (PAHR), the group advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ community in the greater Philadelphia area. The group chose the ambiguity of that acronym during the apex of the AIDS crisis to protect the identities of its members, some of whom refused to receive communications from PAHR lest they be accidentally outed. In 1992, PAHR’s membership changed the organization’s name to the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP) and the group formally incorporated in 1997. The organization’s role expanded quickly. In 2002, the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law Conference was hosted by GALLOP, and now-judge Tiffany Palmer organized the first-ever Lavender Law Career Fair for students. That first career fair attracted 30 employers and around 200 students, but has since become a staple of Lavender Law that attracts over 175 employers annually. In 2019 GALLOP changed its name to the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association “to fully include the diverse identities of its members. These name changes reflect the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association’s ongoing commitment to being forward-thinking and encouraging a diverse and inclusive group of LGBTQ+ leaders for tomorrow.” Diverse and inclusive it now is. In 2021, the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association leadership is young, progressive and racially, ethnically and gender diverse, led by a millennial gay man of color, Stephen Kulp, who has chaired the organization since January 2021. (Philadelphia Gay News – Victoria A. Brownworth at https://epgn.com/2021/11/17/philadelphia-lgbtq-bar-association-fights-on/)
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