It is my honor to have recently been elected President at our August 2020 Annual Meeting of the LGBTQ+ Judges. In 1998, as a first year law student, I never imagined writing to you as I do today. Then, I was a part-time evening law student who worked full time in a law firm. My dreams centered on surviving my four-year evening program, passing the California Bar Exam, and landing an attorney position that would help me pay back my student loans.
On the cusp of my first law school semester, the local county bar had published a report about the glass ceiling in law for lesbian and gay attorneys. Few were mentioning the ‘B” or “T”, let alone the “Q+” of our diversities back then. The jist of the report: good luck finding and retaining a good legal job if you were ‘out.’ It was very disheartening.
A month into that first semester, I attended a local bench/bar reception for law students at the home of a local judge. Meeting and shaking the hand of the first openly gay judge in the United States, Judge Stephen Lachs of the Los Angeles Superior Court, my career trajectory changed. I realized: gays and lesbians could become judges. Glass ceiling or not, it was possible.
In 1993 when this organization was founded, twenty-five out judges were at the table. In August 2020, our LGBTQ+ Judges membership and contacts list totals almost five hundred (500) LGBTQ+ jurists worldwide. Paid members are at or near record levels for our organization. We owe much of our progress to our most recent Past President, Dan Anders, whom I have the good fortune of succeeding. Our organizational vitality is further attributed to our LGBTQ+ Judges founding sisters and brothers, including Judge Lachs, L.A.Superior Court (Ret.), an esteemed past president of this organization, and the litany of past presidents, board members, and members over our twenty-seven year history. Judge Lachs and ALL, thank you.
Despite the uncertainty in our world due to the Covid19, the realities of systemic racism we must confront in the United States as well as in other nations, LGBTQ+ Judges must and shall look forward. My leadership initiatives as your President include growing our international membership, expanding our judicial education offerings, convening in another country besides the United States when travel is safe and allowed, and looking realistically and honestly at racism and the diversity of our profession. I will need your help, input and support. Please stay tuned and connected! Lastly, I invite each of us to reflect on our own paths to the judiciary, remember who helped us, and extend a hand to help other diverse persons who similarly aspire.