Blog of Rights

James
Esseks

James D. Esseks is Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project.  He joined the Project as Litigation Director in 2001 and has been in his current position since 2010.  James oversees litigation, lobbying, policy advocacy, organizing, and public education work nationwide that aims to ensure equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by the government; equal rights and protections for LGBT couples and families; protection from discrimination in jobs, schools, housing, and public accommodations; and fair treatment by the government of people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to joining the ACLU, he was a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., in New York. He graduated from Yale College and Harvard Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He clerked for U.S. Judge James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York.

The End Game Is Here for Marriage Equality

The End Game Is Here for Marriage Equality

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:33pm
This is it – the end game in the longstanding campaign to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide is upon us. The U.S. Supreme Court has just announced it will hear freedom-to-marry cases in all four states in the Sixth Circuit- Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. We're thrilled to be co-counsel in the Kentucky and Ohio cases.
A Minister and a Rabbi Walk Into a Vegas Wedding Chapel...

A Minister and a Rabbi Walk Into a Vegas Wedding Chapel...

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:40pm

There are currently 32 states and counting that have marriage equality. This is up from 12 states before we helped Edie Windsor strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court last June.

In the states where gay couples have just…

Fighting Ignorance About HIV

Fighting Ignorance About HIV

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:20pm

Decades into the HIV epidemic, some government policies continue to misunderstand the actual risk of HIV transmission and to ignore the urgent health care needs of people living with HIV. Here are a few highlights of the ACLU's work on fighting these…

Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in 30 States – With More to Come

Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in 30 States – With More to Come

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 1:24pm

This morning the Supreme Court denied certiorari in all five freedom to marry cases pending before it.  The ACLU was co-counsel in three of the five cases.  

The Supreme Court had previously granted a stay of the decisions by…

As Wedding Bells Ring Out in Florida, Is Marriage Equality Coming to the Supreme Court?

As Wedding Bells Ring Out in Florida, Is Marriage Equality Coming to the Supreme Court?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:58pm

Wedding bells have begun ringing out across the Sunshine State.

County clerks all across Florida yesterday started accepting marriage license applications from same-sex couples, thanks to an ACLU case. That makes Florida the 36th freedom-to-marry…

It's Not the 80s Anymore: Transition-Related Care is Basic Healthcare

It's Not the 80s Anymore: Transition-Related Care is Basic Healthcare

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:51pm

The big LGBT-news that the mainstream media is buzzing about this week is that transgender actress Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to grace the cover of TIME magazine.

Her recognition and the accompanying cover story, "The Transgender…

EEOC Breakthrough: Anti-Transgender Discrimination Is Unlawful

EEOC Breakthrough: Anti-Transgender Discrimination Is Unlawful

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:16pm

Consider this: A person applies for a job at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as a ballistics forensic technician, is well-qualified for the position, and is offered the job. She then tells ATF that she is transitioning…

This is What the Fight for Marriage Equality Looks Like

This is What the Fight for Marriage Equality Looks Like

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:39pm

A lot of people think that the fight for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples is all about legal filings, demonstrations and news coverage. I'm here to tell you that it's not: it's about real people, real lives and sometimes, real tragedy.…

Nebraska's Ban on Gay Foster Parents is Beatable

Nebraska's Ban on Gay Foster Parents is Beatable

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:17pm

The Cornhusker State's discriminatory ban on gay foster parents looks increasingly rickety.

A Nebraska state trial court ruled today that our challenge to the state's ban on foster parenting or adoption by gay people can proceed. The ruling…

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:50am

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution. This decision, in the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of Edie Windsor, marks a watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality.…

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