Conference to focus on the current Texas legislative session, building advocacy alliances
The third annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legal advocacy conference, “Legal Advocacy on LGBT Issues in the 81st Texas Legislative Session,” will be held at the School of Law on Thursday, March 5, 2009, beginning at 1 p.m., in the Eidman Courtroom.
The conference is hosted by UT Law’s OUTLaw chapter with support from Equality Texas and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues section of the Texas State Bar. Lawyers who attend can register for three hours of continuing legal education credit.
Opening remarks will be delivered by Glen Maxey, a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1991 until 2003. As the first openly gay member of the Texas Legislature, Maxey oversaw the establishment and development of facilities to educate and care for HIV-infected individuals, including AIDS Services of Austin. Maxey was also a founding member of the Texas Legislature Study Group, a group of legislators who worked on progressive legislative issues.
The conference will consist of three panel discussions. The first panel will focus exclusively on the issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in the current Texas legislative session. This panel will consist of Paul Scott, Phyllis Frye, and Anne Wynne.
Paul Scott is the executive director for Equality Texas, the statewide political advocacy organization for LGBT issues. After graduating from the University of Georgia Law School, he practiced for nine years as a civil litigator in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before entering a career in the nonprofit sector in 1995. He has served with Equality Texas since 2006.
Phyllis Frye has spent the last three decades on the front lines of the LGBT civil rights movement as a pioneer in the national movement for transgender legal and political action. Frye is the founder and former executive director of the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy Inc. In 1991, she founded the Transgender Law Conference. Frye remains a practicing attorney in Houston, where her “Phyllabuster” e-mail network continues to inform thousands of activists about the legal and political issues affecting transgender people, as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues.
Anne Wynne is the founder of Atticus Circle, a national nonprofit seeking to educate and mobilize fair-minded straight allies to advance equality for LGBT individuals and their families. A 1978 graduate of UT Law, Wynne was prominent in fighting 2005’s Proposition 2, the “Defense of Marriage Amendment,” testifying in front of the Texas Legislature and serving as a spokesperson for a coalition of more than 150 organizations working to defeat the amendment. Wynne is a partner in Ikard, Wynne & Ratliff, LLP, a civil litigation firm.
OUTLaw’s second panel will focus on domestic partnership benefits in the University of Texas system. One of the speakers on this panel will be Karen Langsley, currently a family law practitioner in Austin and past president of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues section of the Texas State Bar, who will speak about the ethics of setting up contractual benefits for domestic partners. Other speakers include Karen Pagani, a representative from the Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association at the University of Texas, and Larry Sager, Dean of the School of Law.
OUTLaw’s third panel, entitled “Forging a Diverse Alliance,” will focus on building advocacy alliances beyond the LGBT legal community. In the wake of the passage of California’s Proposition 8, it is vital to develop short and long-term strategies for coalition building. Panelists include Dr. Gregory Vincent, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin; and Jesse Garcia, former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and twice a member of the National Stonewall Democrats board of directors, overseeing ninety LGBT Democratic organizations across the United States.
Following the conference, at 5 p.m. there will be a happy hour at São Paulo’s (2809 San Jacinto), allowing conference attendees to further interact with UT Law students and panelists.
Organizers of the conference believe that the timeliness and variety of the issues discussed will foster further dialogue and action in areas such as “safe schools,” anti-bullying policies, sexual orientation and gender identity-inclusive anti-discrimination policies, and marriage equality. The panels hope to not only touch on the implications for LGBT Texans, but also to mobilize fair-minded attorneys and students.
All of the conference sessions, which are open to the public, will be held in the Eidman Courtroom at the University of Texas School of Law.
Registration, as well as sponsorship information, is available online at http://www.utexas.edu/law/orgs/outlaw/conference/