WEBCAST: Video of OUTLaw LGBT Legal Advocacy Conference available
OUTLaw, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) law student group at the University of Texas School of Law, hosted a legal advocacy conference at the Law School’s Eidman Courtroom on April 15, 2011. The LBGT Legal Advocacy Conference covered legal issues that are pertinent to the LGBT community in the areas of employment discrimination, gay marriage and divorce, and family law (including assisted reproductive technology and adoption). Video from the conference is available below.
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During the conference, several legal practitioners and advocates shared their experiences working on these legal issues with LGBT clients. UT Law students and OUTLaw officers and members Alexa Bertinelli (president), Daniel Collins (member), Jason Cordova (treasurer), and Sam Rettew (social events coordinator) moderated the discussions.
Speakers included Robert W. Schmidt, ’89, an attorney at Crews Law Firm PC in Austin, who has represented hundreds of clients in employment disputes involving discrimination, sexual harassment, civil rights, wage and hour claims, and unemployment and disability benefits; and Josephine P. Tittsworth, a licensed master social worker and a PhD candidate in social work at the University of Houston. She has lobbied on behalf of the transgendered community in Austin and Washington, D.C., since 1997. She also has published several peer-reviewed articles on transgender issues and serves on the boards of several national non-profit organizations which advocate for gay and transgendered persons.
A panel on LGBT family law issues featured speakers Mitchell Katine, Keith Griffin, and Christine Henry Andresen. Katine founded Katine & Nechman LLP, where he concentrates his practice in the areas of disability, real estate, probate, insurance disputes, and employment matters, especially related to HIV/AIDS and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. Katine was the local attorney for John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in the United States Supreme Court decision that overturned all sodomy laws in the United States. He is a frequent lecturer and author on topics dealing with HIV, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and gay and lesbian civil rights.
Griffin, ’69, practices family law in Dallas and New York at the Griffin Firm. Griffin’s first same-gender partnership dissolution took place in 1998, and he has been representing clients in similar matters ever since. Andresen practices family law in Austin, where she has represented LGBT clients in a variety of issues, including drafting of wills and powers of attorney, assisting couples with second parent adoption, and helping with legal issues involving a separation. She is a member of Lambda Legal’s Cooperating Attorney Network, the Lambda Legal National Advisory Network for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care, and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas.
The gay marriage panel featured speakers Kenneth D. Upton Jr., Jason Steed, and UT Law Professor Patrick Woolley. Upton is an attorney for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national LGBT legal organization, whose work across the country has included upholding LGBT adoption rights, defending a Title VII claim on behalf of transgender woman, and upholding health insurance coverage for same-sex partners of city employees. Recently Upton has appeared as counsel of record on Lambda Legal’s landmark Iowa Supreme Court marriage victory.
Jason Steed, ’09, is an attorney at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Austin. Steed currently represents clients in two separate same-sex divorce cases, both of which have been appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. In one of those cases, the court of appeals held Texas district courts lack jurisdiction to hear a petition for divorce involving a same-sex couple, even if that couple was legally married in another state. In the other case, another court of appeals held the State could not intervene to prevent the district court from granting the divorce.
Woolley joined the UT Law faculty in 1994 after practicing for several years with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles. His research and teaching interests include civil procedure, conflict of laws, federal courts, and constitutional law. Woolley received his JD from Yale Law School.
OUTLaw is a social and political student organization dedicated to serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community at the University of Texas School of Law. The organization’s goal is to provide support for this community and a voice for LGBT concerns. OUTLaw also seeks to educate the Law School community by increasing LGBT visibility and raising awareness of LGBT issues.
Media contact: Laura Castro, UT Law Communications, 512-232-1229, firstname.lastname@example.org.