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.

With Less Than 18 Months To Live, She Wants To Get Married

With Less Than 18 Months To Live, She Wants To Get Married

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:45pm
Our freedom to marry lawsuit in New Mexico has just gotten more urgent.
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…

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…

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…

Victory for Transgender People in Wisconsin Prisons

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:41pm

The ACLU LGBT Project recently got a great decision (PDF) on a transgender rights issue from a federal court in Wisconsin. The result and the reasoning are a welcome sign that courts are starting to take transgender rights more seriously, and…

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…

And Pennsylvania Makes Nineteen!

And Pennsylvania Makes Nineteen!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:14pm

Yesterday a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled for the freedom to marry, and today the state's governor, Tom Corbett, announced that he won't appeal the judge's ruling.

That means that Pennsylvania now becomes the 19th state in the nation…

The Country's Evolution on Marriage

The Country's Evolution on Marriage

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:20pm

Earlier this week, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. I've been doing advocacy around marriage…

Jen and Angelique Got Married!

Jen and Angelique Got Married!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:52am

Two amazing updates on this case. First, Jen and Angelique are married! Last Friday, the Santa Fe County Clerk issued them a marriage license and they got married in a cancer center while Jen was on a break from a chemotherapy infusion. There's just…

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