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.

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#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.
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…

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…

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.…

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…

Marriage Momentum Continues!

Marriage Momentum Continues!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 3:52pm

What a day! Today two courts moved us closer to the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in New Jersey and Illinois.

In the ACLU and Lambda Legal's lawsuits seeking marriage in Illinois, a state trial court ruled that the case shouldn't be…
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…

Championing 4,000 At-Risk Kids by Standing Up for Greg & Stillman

Championing 4,000 At-Risk Kids by Standing Up for Greg & Stillman

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 11:13am

Greg and Stillman Stewart have a knack for nurturing children with serious needs. The two men have been together...

The Next Marriage Moment Starts in New Jersey – But We're Not Done Yet!

The Next Marriage Moment Starts in New Jersey – But We're Not Done Yet!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:16pm

Today same-sex couples start marrying in New Jersey, thanks to Lambda Legal's fabulous court victory. We're thrilled to see New Jersey...

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