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.

Defeating DOMA and Moving Forward

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 5:14pm
There's lots to celebrate about the Justice Department's statement that it will no longer defend the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) in court. That statement makes a few things clear:

Why Yesterday's Prop. 8 Decision Matters

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:32pm

By now you’ve surely heard about yesterday’s smashing victory in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger federal marriage case in San Francisco. It’s a historic ruling that strikes down Prop. 8 because it violates the federal Constitution. The…

Same-Sex Couples Fight for Their Rights in Big Sky Country

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:10pm

Mary Leslie knows firsthand how it feels to lose everything. On their eighth anniversary together, her partner was killed in a tragic accident at a Montana ski resort, where they both worked as instructors. Despite their years together, Mary…

A One-Two Punch to DOMA

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:20pm

You’ve probably heard by now about yesterday’s fabulous pair of decisions striking down a portion of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I wanted to explain a bit about what the decisions mean and put them in context.

Over…

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…

George Rekers: An Ex-Expert Witness

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:29am

By now, many of you have probably seen news reports, and even late-night comedy routines, about Dr. George Rekers, the anti-gay activist who allegedly hired a young man through Rentboy.com to "carry his luggage" on a European vacation. What…

Can a Gay Judge Be Fair to Straight Folks?

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:29pm

After recent news stories reporting that Judge Vaughn Walker, the federal judge presiding over the Olson/Boies federal challenge to Prop 8’s ban on marriage of same-sex couples, is a gay man, some commentators have started calling for Judge Walker…

Et Uxor

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:57pm

As I read those words at the end of the title of a newly issued case from a federal appeals court in California, my high school Latin came flooding back to me and I got teary-eyed.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines the term “Et uxor”…

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