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.

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 couples should be able to make the same legal commitment to each other that straight folks can.  And this marriage moment provides immeasurable support for the prospect of another one next June, when the Supreme Court is likely to issue its views on marriage for same-sex couples.
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…

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

DOMA headed to the Supreme Court?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:49pm

Today, we asked the United States Supreme Court to review the ACLU’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Edie Windsor.  A federal trial court struck down DOMA last month in Edie's case, holding that it violates the federal…

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…

Another DOMA Win!

Another DOMA Win!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:44pm

When it rains, it pours! Late this afternoon, another federal judge ruled that the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the federal constitution. The ruling came in an ACLU case brought by Edie Windsor after the death…

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…

Maryland: Breakthrough Moment on the Freedom to Marry!

Maryland: Breakthrough Moment on the Freedom to Marry!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:37pm

With yesterday’s passage of a Maryland bill opening the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, there’s no denying it anymore – we’re at a breakthrough moment in the struggle for fair marriage laws. 

The Maryland…

Love Is in the Air: Update on Efforts to Expand the Freedom to Marry

Love Is in the Air: Update on Efforts to Expand the Freedom to Marry

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:09pm

A quick guide to what's happening with efforts to expand marriage for same-sex couples on the ground now and what’s in store for us during the rest of 2012.

Clinging to the Side of a Pool, Fighting for Equality

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 5:18pm

The country and the ACLU lost a champion of civil rights earlier this month, when Robert L. Carter, federal judge and former general counsel of the NAACP, died at 94. Judge Carter’s astounding contributions to reforming American law about…

Just Plain Mean

Just Plain Mean

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 5:06pm

Today we challenged a new Michigan law that bars cities and counties from providing health insurance to the domestic partners of their employees.

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