Rubenfeld selected to serve on legal group's commission

Abby Rubenfeld, a noted Nashville attorney, has been selected to serve on a newly created American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The commission will work to eliminate bias and discrimination against persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities in the legal profession, the justice system and society.

"The ABA's commitment to equality of opportunity is reflected in many policies opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in many contexts, including employment, housing, public accommodations, legal education, and child custody, adoption and foster care decisions," said ABA President William H. Neukom of Seattle. "Although much progress has been made to reduce bias in this area, numerous studies demonstrate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continue to face pervasive discrimination within the legal profession, as they do in many other walks of life."

Neukom noted that last February the association amended its Goal IX, which was adopted in 1991 and promotes full and equal participation in the legal profession by minorities, women and persons with disabilities, to include persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. He said the new commission will be the vehicle to implement the amendment.

"The commission's creation recognizes that diversity in the legal profession is beneficial for all lawyers, just as it is in the larger community," said Jeffrey G. Gibson of San Francisco, appointed to chair the new commission.

Rubenfeld has a general law practice in Nashville with an emphasis on family law, sexual orientation and AIDS-related issues, and currently serves on the board of directors of the ACLU of Tennessee. She served on the board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights organization and the largest lesbian and gay political organization in the world, for seven years. She also served for more than five years as Legal Director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., a national civil rights organization that conducts test case litigation across the country on behalf of lesbian and gay rights and AIDS issues. She is a past recipient of the Bill of Rights Award from the ACLU of Tennessee, and the Dan Bradley Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, which recognized her outstanding efforts on behalf of equality under the law. At Vanderbilt Law School, Rubenfeld teaches Sexual Orientation and the Law.

Joining Rubenfled on the commision are Pamela C. Enslen of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Courtney G. Joslin of Davis, Calif.; Jeffrey E. M. Joyner, Patrick McGlone, David Remes, Paul M. Smith and Melvin White, all of Washington, D.C.; E. John Krumholtz of Arlington, Va.; Jennifer Levi of Easthampton, Mass.; Shannon Minter and Therese M. Stewart, both of San Francisco, Calif.

Mark D. Agrast of Washington, D.C., a past member of the ABA Board of Governors and past chair of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, is a special advisor to the commission.

The commission's first meeting will be Nov. 30 through Dec. 1 in Washington, D.C.

With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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