ACLU Attorney Comes to San Francisco to Lead Gay Rights Work in the West

July 28, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union has assigned noted gay rights attorney Tamara Lange to San Francisco to lead the ACLU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights work in the western states. Lange has been an attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights and AIDS Projects in New York since 2001.

“”We are very excited to have Tamara in San Francisco to spearhead our LGBT and AIDS work in this part of the country,”” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights and AIDS Projects. “”The recent gay rights victory from the Supreme Court places us at a critical point in the push for LGBT equality. Tamara is an excellent lawyer and has done some phenomenal work in the past two years. Her commitment to the community and knowledge of the law are exactly what we need on the West Coast to maximize the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling.””

“”The ACLU of Northern California has been involved in some of the most groundbreaking litigation for LGBT civil rights over the years,”” said Dorothy Ehrlich, Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California. “”We look forward to continuing that tradition and putting Tamara’s litigation skills to good use.””

While at the ACLU, Lange has worked on a number of important cases and projects, including helping to draft the ACLU’s initial brief to the Supreme Court asking the Court to take Lawrence v. Texas, the now historic challenge to Texas law that made some kinds of sexual intimacy a crime for gay people. She is also the primary lawyer responsible for the companion case of Matthew Limon, who is appealing a 17-year prison sentence for performing consensual oral sex with a nearly-15-year-old male. Limon, who had turned 18 only a week before the incident, would have been sentenced to a maximum of 15 months if he and his partner had been members of the opposite sex, because the Kansas “”Romeo and Juliet Law”” applies only to heterosexuals. The day after its decision in the Texas case, the Supreme Court vacated Limon’s sentence and instructed the Kansas Court of Appeals to review his case.

This spring, Lange obtained a groundbreaking federal court decision that required a school district in rural Kentucky to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) to meet at school despite a school boycott by other students, massive community protests, and a school board decision to ban all clubs in an effort to shut down the GSA. Lange also brought a federal lawsuit, in conjunction with Lambda Legal, challenging an anti-gay family amendment to the Nebraska constitution, which voids any type of relationship recognition for lesbian and gay couples. In addition, Lange is currently finalizing a two-year survey of HIV/AIDS health care providers to document civil rights violations from around the country. The survey results will be released later this summer.

“”I’m happy to be back in San Francisco. I moved to Berkeley in 1992 because the LGBT community here is so visible and so diverse,”” said Lange. “”Living in California for 10 years made me a better advocate for LGBT rights in other parts of the country. Now it’s time to bring it home. While San Francisco has among the best legal protections for LGBT people, there’s plenty of work to do here, especially in rural California and in other parts of the West.””

A 1995 graduate of the University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, Lange clerked in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Prior to joining the ACLU, she practiced for Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe in San Francisco and at Caldwell, Leslie, Newcombe & Pettit in Los Angeles.

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