Writing LGBTQ history at NYU Law

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June 28, 1969: An uprising of bar patrons and neighborhood residents outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village marks a pivotal moment in the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

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March 1970: Professor Norman Dorsen files two certiorari petitions in the US Supreme Court regarding government discrimination against two gay men. Hays Fellows Alan Sussman ’70, LLM ’01 and Nick Waranoff ’71 assisted Dorsen with the petitions.

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April 8, 1976: A meeting hosted by Donald Hall ’78 and Linda Krieger ’78 launches Lesbian and Gay Law Students (LGLS) at NYU Law. LGLS would change its name, first to the Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Law Students Association (BGLLSA, or “Big Lisa”) in 1993, and finally to OUTLaw in 2001.

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March 7, 1978: The NYU Law faculty votes 28-4 to extend the Law School Placement Office’s anti-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation as a prohibited basis for employment discrimination, making NYU Law the first law school to do so.

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March 10–11, 1979: LGLS and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund co-host “Law and the Fight for Gay Rights,” one of the first conferences of its kind, at NYU Law. New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams ’63 speaks about the problems of securing and enforcing gay rights.

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December 7, 1985: LGLS co-sponsors a conference on public policy and the AIDS epidemic that attracts about 200 politicians, scholars, and others.

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Spring 1990: NYU Law revises its housing policy to allow unmarried couples, including same-sex ones, to apply for housing previously reserved for legally married couples. LGLS had pushed for the changes as early as 1980.

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October 18, 1990: In a Q&A session with NYU Law students, retired Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell admits to regrets about his swing vote in the 5-4 Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which upheld the criminalization of same-sex sexual activity: “I think I probably made a mistake in that one.”

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April 16, 1993: At the urging of BGLLSA, the Law School faculty votes to ban on-campus recruitment by Colorado employers who do not devote “substantial” resources to overturning Amendment 2, a voter-approved amendment to Colorado’s constitution that would prevent any locality in the state from recognizing homosexuals or bisexuals as a protected class.

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October 31, 1993: The Union of Clerical, Administrative & Technical Staff (UCATS) at NYU wins domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of NYU employees, thanks to the efforts of NYU Law administrative aide Stephen Rechner (pictured), then a shop steward (now president) of UCATS; Law School faculty librarian Carol Alpert; and other LGBTQ faculty and administrators across the University.

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November 15, 1996: The NYU Review of Law and Social Change hosts a symposium, “Queer Rights in Three Acts: Litigation, Non-Litigation, and Theory,” co-sponsored by BGLLSA.

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October 1998: Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, dies from injuries sustained in a homophobic attack, sparking international headlines. During a march on Fifth Avenue after a vigil for Shepard, police arrest Michelle Solomon ’01 and Michael Sant’Ambrogio ’01, who were acting as legal observers.

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October 16, 2000: A recruiter from the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps conducts on-campus interviews, ending the 22-year ban on military recruitment at the Law School. With the support of the administration, some 100 students protest.

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September 19, 2003: The Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), an association of law schools and law faculty—including NYU Law—sues the Department of Defense, alleging that the Solomon Amendment violates their First Amendment rights. The Solomon Amendment strips federal funding from schools that ban military recruiters. Dean Richard Revesz, Professor Sylvia Law ’68 (pictured); Professor Burt Neuborne (pictured); and Associate Dean for Career Services Irene Dorzback led the move to join the suit.

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March 6, 2006: In FAIR v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court holds unanimously that the Solomon Amendment does not violate law schools’ or law faculties’ First Amendment rights.

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Spring 2011: NYU Law launches the LGBT Rights Clinic. Now called the LGBTQ Rights Externship, it is currently taught by Adjunct Professor Michael Kavey.

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Summer 2016: The Law School introduces gender-neutral bathrooms.

Posted July 28, 2019