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.

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

DOMA Unconstitutional! And Prop 8 Goes Down, Too!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:50am
The United States Supreme Court just ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution. This decision, in the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of Edie Windsor, marks a watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality. It's a monumental victory for Edie Windsor, for married same-sex couples, and for the bedrock American value of equality.
Fighting Ignorance About HIV

Fighting Ignorance About HIV

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:20pm

Decades into the HIV epidemic, some government policies continue to misunderstand the actual risk of HIV transmission and to ignore the urgent health care needs of people living with HIV. Here are a few highlights of the ACLU's work on fighting these…

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…

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…

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…

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…

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

DOMA Unconstitutional Again, and Heightened Scrutiny to Boot!

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

Yesterday, in Edie Windsor’s challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution. It’s the second federal appeals court to strike DOMA down, and it’s the…

Protecting Kids and Families in North Carolina

Protecting Kids and Families in North Carolina

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 10:18am

We’ve just filed a new federal case in North Carolina to ensure that kids being raised by lesbian or gay parents can have legally protected relationships with both of the parents who are raising them. North Carolina bans second parent…

Excuse Me, Ma'am, This Isn’t Your ID

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 2:34pm

Last fall, K.L., an Alaskan who transitioned to living as a woman two years ago, got her local Department of Motor Vehicles office to change the gender marker on her driver’s license from M to F.  She was thrilled to have her identity…

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