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.

#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 Roper and Angelique Neuman. The lawsuit allowed Jen and Angelique to get married last August, just a few months before Jen died of a brain tumor, and I have no doubt that Jen and Angelique's story helped the court see the humanity of gay people and the principles of fairness enshrined in the state constitution.
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…

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…

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…

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…

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.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman have been together for over 21 years. They met as students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1992, became friends and…

Virginia Should Be for All Lovers – Bringing the Freedom to Marry to Virginia

Virginia Should Be for All Lovers – Bringing the Freedom to Marry to Virginia

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:17am

Today we filed another marriage case, this time on the solidly southern soil of Virginia. The case is a joint venture among the ACLU,...

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…

Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

Voices Against DOMA: We've Got Friends

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:38pm

We're almost there – next week, on March 27, the Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in Edie Windsor's case. Essentially DOMA requires the federal government to treat legally married…

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