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.

For Queer Youth, ACLU Is Here to "Kick Some Ass"!

For Queer Youth, ACLU Is Here to "Kick Some Ass"!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:29pm
A centerpiece of the ACLU's work for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) youth is ensuring that public schools don't erase LGBT people from the school environment. Opponents of LGBT equality, or school officials who are simply uncomfortable with LGBT issues, often try to make LGBT people and issues about our lives invisible in school. They tell kids they can't be open and honest about who they are, they fail to mention that historic, literary or political figures were gay, and they prevent discussion of LGBT-related topics both in and out of the classroom.

Honoring Love and Commitment in the Heartland

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 4:49pm

A bill allowing for civil unions has been passed by the Illinois legislature and the governor is expected to sign it shortly. The Illinois bill will provide important protections to same-sex couples, including medical decision-making authority;…

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…

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…

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…

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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