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 in Illinois – The Momentum Continues!

Marriage in Illinois – The Momentum Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:05am
Yesterday the Illinois legislature gave same-sex couples the freedom to marry, making Illinois the 15th state (plus the District of Columbia) to do so, and the 9th new marriage state in just the last 12 months. With Illinois, over 37% of the American population lives in a freedom-to-marry state, up from 11% a year ago. The march towards equality is turning into a stampede!
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.

In the ACLU and Lambda Legal's lawsuits seeking marriage in Illinois, a state trial court ruled that the case shouldn't be…
How the ACLU Helped Get Us To Today's Marriage Moment

How the ACLU Helped Get Us To Today's Marriage Moment

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:06pm

As the Supreme Court takes up the challenge to California's Prop 8 today, and the ACLU's challenge to DOMA tomorrow, it's clear that we've reached a tipping point on marriage for same-sex couples. Public opinion on this issue has reached approval levels…

Marriage in New Mexico, Civil Unions in Colorado – The Wave Continues!

Marriage in New Mexico, Civil Unions in Colorado – The Wave Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:36am

It seems like every time you turn around these days, someone is announcing new support for the freedom to marry, which is the result of years of groundwork that the ACLU and other organizations have laid to get us to this incredible place.

Yesterday…

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....

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…

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…

Challenging DOMA for Edie and Thea

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 5:49pm

Today we filed a constitutional challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court in New York City. It follows on the heels of the DOMA challenge that Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders won last summer, and highlights…

Victory for Constance McMillen!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:52pm

Back in March, we sued the public high school in Fulton, Mississippi, for canceling the school prom rather than allow Constance McMillen to attend with her girlfriend and to wear a tuxedo. You may remember that school officials then invited her…

#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…

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