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.

Protecting Kids and Families in North Carolina

Protecting Kids and Families in North Carolina

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:18am
We’ve just filed a new federal case in North Carolina to ensure that kids being raised by lesbian or gay parents can have legally protected relationships with both of the parents who are raising them. North Carolina bans second parent adoption – which is the name for that kind of protection – and the stories of two of our plaintiff families illustrate just how harmful the ban is. 
Championing 4,000 At-Risk Kids by Standing Up for Greg & Stillman

Championing 4,000 At-Risk Kids by Standing Up for Greg & Stillman

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:13am

Greg and Stillman Stewart have a knack for nurturing children with serious needs. The two men have been together...

Expanding the Freedom to Marry: Here’s What’s Next

Expanding the Freedom to Marry: Here’s What’s Next

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:17am

Today, the ACLU launched three new federal marriage cases – in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia (this last as co-counsel with Lambda Legal). These cases are step two of our two-pronged, post-DOMA, post-Prop 8 plan for winning the freedom…

Victory! Equal Pay for Lesbian and Gay Veterans

Victory! Equal Pay for Lesbian and Gay Veterans

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 9:47am

At long last (and after two years of ACLU litigation), many lesbian and gay former members of the military will be getting what they deserve: full severance pay regardless of their sexual orientation.

If you serve six years in the military…

We're Going to The Supreme Court! The Supreme Court Takes Review of DOMA and Prop 8!

We're Going to The Supreme Court! The Supreme Court Takes Review of DOMA and Prop 8!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:00am

Today the Prop 8 case (Perry) is being argued before the Supreme Court and tomorrow the ACLU will be there challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Edie Windsor....

A Marriage Moment (and Another One to Come)

A Marriage Moment (and Another One to Come)

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:56am

The nation has just had a marriage moment – a tipping point where voters in at least two states have affirmed the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.  The vote illustrates that the country is getting squarely behind the notion that same-sex…

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:20pm

Yesterday, in Edie Windsor’s challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution. It’s the second federal appeals court to strike DOMA down, and it’s the…

Wear That Dress or Else!

Wear That Dress or Else!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:59pm

That’s basically what a high school principal told Ceara Sturgis at the start of her senior year — you’ve got to wear a “drape,” or scoop-necked covering that looks like the top of a dress, in the yearbook photo. …

Gay People Raising Kids: From Our Downfall To Our Salvation

Gay People Raising Kids: From Our Downfall To Our Salvation

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:21am

It used to be that the idea of gay people raising kids spooked lots of people, who thought of us only as pedophiles, not as parents. In fact, we lost a long series of court cases about the freedom to marry based on judges saying that straight folks…

44% of the US population lives in a freedom-to-marry state.

The Freedom to Marry Breaking Out All Over!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:52pm

Marriage in Oregon and Pennsylvania. Respect for existing marriages in Utah. Plus a new marriage lawsuit in Montana. From coast to coast, and several places in between, the ACLU has been propelling the marriage movement forward. Here's a round-up of…

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