Events are shaping up in Nevada that could be a major speed bump for LGBTQ activists. David Phillips is in the middle of a case now which could provide the spark. William Eskridge, a long time legal activists for gay rights, could provide the gasoline.
In March a Nevada federal judge threw out a lawsuit by a Las Vegas lawyer that claimed the State Bar of Nevada leaked information to the press about a pending bar probe.
David Lee Phillips had alleged an attorney employed by the state bar disclosed confidential rulings. U.S. District Judge James Mahan maintained that the state bar is allowed to disclose the status and nature of a grievance when requested by a third party.
The conduct discussed in Phillip’s lawsuit falls within the Nevada Supreme Court ruling allowing the disclosure, according to Mahan.
Phillips had also said the disclosure singled him out and was an example of the bar “picking on attorneys for race, color, and sexual orientation.” Mahan tossed that claim as well saying Phillips had failed to show how the bar treats minority attorneys differently than other “similarly situated” attorneys.
Phillips promises the fight is not over and would like to see his case become a model for LGBT rights nationally.
It’s a decades-old argument. One of the earliest street fighters for gay rights and same-sex marriage is still engaged in the struggle.
Bill is now a law professor at Yale. He teaches Constitutional Law with a focus on Sexuality and Gender. In the 1980s the taught in Virginia.
In 2009, Eskridge testified to the House Committee on Education and Labor about the then-pending Employment and Non-Discrimination Act of 2009.
Why did Eskridge testify? For one thing, University of Virginia Law School denied him tenure because he’s gay.
“I was denied tenure at UVA School of Law in 1985 in part because of my sexual orientation,” Eskridge told the committee. “They hysterical behavior indicates the decision was influenced by anti-gay prejudice.”
Eskridge has written extensively about LGBT rights and same-sex marriage in states as diverse as Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii.
Eskridge is part of a growing group of legal activists that are concerned about Trump’s policies and the people with whom Trump is surrounding himself.
Trump’s selections for leadership spots present threats to national unity. His tentative appointees promise to turn the clock back for racial, religious and sexual minorities.
The concern is growing following his nomination of Alabama’s Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general comes days after Stephen Bannon’s appointment as “senior adviser” and “chief strategist.|
Sessions was turned back in a bid for federal judgeship in 1986 for being racist. Sessions had made racially charged remarks as a U.S. Attorney and said the believed the KKK was ok.
Bannon directed the Breitbart website, condemned as racist and sexist. In a 2011 interview, Bannon said conservative women infuriated liberals because they are pro-family, have husbands and would love their children.
Lennie Gerbert, an 80-year old resident of Las Vegas who participated in the successful fight for same-sex marriage, said she was worried Trump’s appointments would incite more statements such as Bannon’s.
“Saying that kind of thing incites the anti-gay feelings,” Gerbert said. “These people who have been suppressed by positive changes in Nevada are now feeling free to express themselves.”
Civil rights leaders in Nevada and nationally are calling on Trump to change his mind on Sessions’ nomination. The nominee requires Senate confirmation as attorney general, but Bannon does not.
Congress viewed Sessions as a hardliner for immigration and a harbinger of hate. The nominees’ policies stand in opposition to the Latino community in Nevada, according to Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza — an advocacy group.
Although Trump says gay marriage won’t be affected, transgender rights are still waiting to be established and may be at risk.
Mike Pence, VP-elect signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as Indiana’s Governor in 2015. That legislation permitted businesses the right to deny LGBT individuals.
Both Trump and Pence have expressed support for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) — a larger version of the Religious Freedom law.
GJN is a Nevada advocacy group that addresses concerned raised by sex and gender diverse communities. Services provided by GJN include therapy and legal assistance as well as support.
GJN is concerned about the boost in hate crimes being seen nationally and wonders how long before Nevada sees an increase as well.