New York State Bar Association Forms LGBTQ People and the Law Section

By Brendan Kennedy

November 7, 2020

New York State Bar Association Forms LGBTQ People and the Law Section


By Brendan Kennedy

Building on a longstanding tradition of advocating for the legal rights and liberties of LGBTQ community members, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) is proud to announce the launch of its LGBTQ People and the Law Section.

The decision to convert this body from a committee to a section was approved at the Nov. 7 virtual meeting of NYSBA’s House of Delegates – the association’s governing body. The change will enable all NYSBA members to participate in the section’s work and also allocate additional resources to expand its initiatives. NYSBA members can join sections in their fields of practice or interest while committee membership is limited.

Established in 2008, the Committee on LGBTQ People and the Law has served as a critical voice for members of the LGBTQ community and its allies. As a section, it will have the singular mission of advocating for and addressing professional, legal, policy and legislative issues that impact the LGBTQ and allied community.

“In just 12 short years, the Committee on LGBTQ People and the Law has accomplished an incredible amount on behalf of this important, yet vulnerable, community,” said NYSBA President Scott M. Karson. “We must remain vigilant to ensure LGBTQ rights are protected and I’m eager to see the work that will be done by this new section to ensure there is equality in the law for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression.”

In September, the committee was instrumental in drafting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of NYSBA in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in a case that could potentially upend the lives of thousands of foster children across the country. The section will continue to write amicus briefs, advocate for legislation ensuring the protection of civil liberties and provide opportunities for lawyers to learn more through social and continuing legal education (CLE) programs.

“I think it is critical that we have a statewide home that can support LGBTQ lawyers and our friends and allies,” said Christopher R. Riano, chair of the LGBTQ People and the Law Section. “We should always ensure that we can champion inclusivity in our work whenever possible, which is why I am so excited for the support of NYSBA as we grow from a committee into a section.”

Riano noted that all 15 of New York’s law schools have LGBTQ student groups and that it is critical to engage with younger lawyers who want to identify as LGBTQ lawyers – especially as diversity, equity and inclusion come into the forefront of the profession. New York now requires that all attorneys satisfy a diversity, equity and inclusion CLE requirement and most law firms are seeking ways to improve inclusion and retain and promote diverse talent.

“There have been countless studies that show the importance of addressing all forms of diversity, equity and inclusion within the legal community,” said Riano. “NYSBA and other organizations have a responsibility to support communities like the LGBTQ legal community at the state-wide level and allowing this committee to grow into a section will continue promoting the goals of the entire NYSBA membership.”

Members will be able to join the section shortly.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Brendan Kennedy
[email protected]

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