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.

Marriage Momentum Continues!

Marriage Momentum Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:52pm
What a day! Today two courts moved us closer to the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in New Jersey and Illinois.
It's Not All About Marriage

It's Not All About Marriage

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:04am

With all the attention over the past several months given to our DOMA challenge at the Supreme Court and to our state marriage campaigns from Rhode Island and Delaware to Minnesota (and we haven't given up the fight in Illinois!), you may be forgiven…

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…

Excuse Me, Ma'am, This Isn’t Your ID

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:34pm

Last fall, K.L., an Alaskan who transitioned to living as a woman two years ago, got her local Department of Motor Vehicles office to change the gender marker on her driver’s license from M to F.  She was thrilled to have her identity…

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…

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…

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.…

#17 - New Mexico Closes Out A Transformative Year on Marriage!

#17 - New Mexico Closes Out A Transformative Year on Marriage!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:07pm

The New Mexico Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The case that got us here (brought by the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights), involved six plaintiff couples, including Jen…

The Next Marriage Moment Starts in New Jersey – But We're Not Done Yet!

The Next Marriage Moment Starts in New Jersey – But We're Not Done Yet!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:16pm

Today same-sex couples start marrying in New Jersey, thanks to Lambda Legal's fabulous court victory. We're thrilled to see New Jersey...

Why Are You Folks Spending So Much Time On Marriage?

Why Are You Folks Spending So Much Time On Marriage?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:54pm

I'm often asked why the gay rights movement is so focused on marriage, and it's a good question.  Part of the answer is that our society has made marriage the gateway to many protections and obligations – from health care to retirement protections…

Statistics image