Waldlaw Blog

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday NCLR!

I am writing this post from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I am attending the annual conference of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, of which I am a new member. The conference has been very interesting, and I have had the opportunity to meet many excellent family formation lawyers from around the country. It is great to be here. BUT -- the conference goes through tomorrow morning, which means that I won't fly home to California until tomorrow afternoon. Which means that, for the first time in about a decade, I will be missing the annual gala of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. You would think that it wouldn't be a big deal to miss an event like this -- after all, it's a big, crowded event, not some intimate affair where my absence will be noticed or my presence missed. And, when I was planning my conference attendance, I didn't think it would be a big deal to miss the NCLR gala. So it has surprised me how sad I have felt as tomorrow draws near, and as I get notices and reminders about the gala from various listserves that I'm on, which of course also serve to remind me that I won't be there. The first NCLR gala I remember attending was held in a gallery in SOMA. We all fit in one room -- not a stadium-sized room, but a room about the size of my livingroom. I remember having a glass of wine with my partner and Debra Chasnoff, and being glad that NCLR had gotten big enough to host a reception like that. And now, probably twenty years later, the NCLR gala has grown to be a party attended by approximately 2500 people -- and sponsored by major businesses like PG&E and Wells Fargo Bank -- where people rent limos and tuxes and fly in from across the country. Not just that, but in those twenty years, NCLR has changed from a group of legal advocates defending the rights of lesbian mothers (remember Sharon Bottoms?) to a multi-state legal advocacy organization working on immigration rights; elder issues; the challenges facing women athletes; youth advocacy; marriage equality; and, of course, the rights of lesbian mothers. And, in some ways most remarkably, NCLR has become one of the premier legal advocacy groups for transgender men and women (thank you Shannon Minter!) and for gay men. I was talking to my mother and brother (with whom I've been visiting while in Massachusetts) about NCLR's current cases, and realized that the two NCLR cases currently getting the most publicity are a lawsuit against the North American Amateur Gay Athletic Association for disqualifying three bisexual male softball players for being "not gay enough" to play in a NAAGAA tournament; and a suit involving discrimination against an elderly gay male couple in Sonoma whose relationship was not accorded due respect during the final months of the older man's life -- neither case having a direct and obvious connection to "Lesbian Rights." In short, I have to conclude that NCLR has truly grown up. NCLR, I salute you on the eve of your 33rd birthday. Just think how far we've come, and where we'll be in another 33 years!


  • I will be a summer intern at NCLR starting in just a few weeks. Your post made me even more excited!

    By Blogger Zach, at 5:06 PM  

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