Happy Pride Month from Deratany & Kosner
June 20, 2021
We celebrate Pride month in June, but LGBTQ representation matters year-round.
This Pride Month, it’s worth looking around and appreciating just how far the legal profession and the legal landscape have changed in regards to LGBTQ+ rights. At the beginning of my career in the 1980s, I served as a volunteer legal advocate for many gay people who were suffering from HIV or AIDS. They often needed the most basic legal services to either navigate through red tape to seek treatment or to get their affairs in order so that they could die in peace. I saw many people die during those years. They were incredibly tough times, and they seem to be a world away from where we are now.
There have been monumental victories for LGBTQ+ people over the past decade, including the Supreme Court victory in Obergefell v. Hodges that made marriage equality the law of the land nationwide. Every year, we see more and more equality-centered policies be adopted in towns, cities, and states.
We’re also seeing people begin to be comfortable with their own genders and sexualities, leading to increased representation and better opportunities. This is true in the legal profession as well. There are a lot more LGBTQ+ attorneys and judges now, though gains for representation are overall still small. This indicates that there is a lot more work to do to end bias and exclusion against LGBTQ+ lawyers. We can and should go further than simply celebrating our LGBTQ community during June – we should fight to increase representation, end bias and bigotry, and actively cultivate equality in our schools, law firms, and professional associations.
There’s also the disturbing reality that there is still a massive struggle for LGBTQ+ people to obtain equality under the law. “Religious liberty” arguments are often a guise for legalized discrimination. Just last week, the Supreme Court made a ruling to force Philadelphia to give foster care contracts to a Catholic agency that prohibits LGBTQ+ couples from becoming foster parents. This could have expansive impacts and give anti-equality activists in other cities and states an incentive to use similar arguments to effectively ban LGBTQ+ people from adopting or being foster parents. In my experience as a lawyer and as a partner at Deratany & Kosner, where we secured the largest-ever judgment against a negligent foster care agency for actions that led to the death of a child, I view this as a travesty. There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States right now, many of whom are traumatized and abused, and getting them into the homes of loving parents – regardless of sexuality – should be our urgent goal. Interested in learning more about foster care abuse and negligence? Read up on our firm’s work here.