ABA shines spotlight on LGBT legal activists

Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its eighth annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 15 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas.

Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes.

The 2020 award recipients: 

• James J. S. Holmes, a partner at Clyde & Co. in Los Angeles, helped create the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and served as its chair from 2012-15.

During that time, he awarded the first Stonewall Award in 2012, and wrote the foreword to “Out and About: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession.”

Holmes oversaw passage of ABA policy to ban conversion therapy for minors; and held an LGBT Advocacy Day in 2015 that included a White House briefing on federal LGBT laws, rights and policies, followed by a visit to Capitol Hill to lobby on two bills affecting LGBT citizens. He currently holds the first at-large LGBT seat on the ABA Board of Governors.

Holmes is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the board of governors for the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles and the National LGBT Bar
Association and does pro bono work for the HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance. He received his B.A. and J.D. from Arizona State University.

• Carmelyn P. Malalis is chair of the New York City Human Rights Commission, where she has instituted regulations to root out discrimination based on gender identity, including regarding pronoun usage, access to single-sex facilities and programs, compliance with single-sex grooming standards.

Other policies she instituted include equitable employee benefits and the provision of housing consistent with an individual’s gender identity in NYC jails.

Previously, she worked for 11 years at Outten & Golden, where she co-founded the firm’s LGBT Workplace Rights Practice Group and worked in close coordination with Lambda Legal, the ACLU’s LGBT Rights Project, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, among others.

Malalis has a B.A. from Yale and received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

• Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project in New York, where his work has included being a member of the legal team of Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage, and G.G. v. Gloucester City School Board, which challenged a Virginia public school district’s policy prohibiting transgender students from using the restroom conforming to their gender identity, at the U.S. Supreme Court.

He also served as lead counsel for Chelsea Manning in Manning v. Hagel, a suit against Department of Defense officials for their failure to provide necessary treatment for her gender dysphoria, and as a member of the legal teams in challenges to the North Carolina “bathroom bill” and to President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban.

In addition, Strangio is the founder and board president of the Lorena Borjas Community Fund in New York, which provides direct bail/bond assistance and other court support to LGBTQ immigrants involved in the criminal justice system.

He received his B.A. from Grinnell College in Iowa and his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.

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