Dear NYLS Community,
Pride Month reminds us that despite progress made since the Stonewall Riots 51 years ago, human rights can never be taken for granted.
Just this month alone, we have seen the power lawyers hold to safeguard equality for all people. Lawyers spent years advancing a successful effort to ensure that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. Lawyers are a key part of the movement to defend health care protections for transgender patients after the federal government’s rollback of those protections. Lawyers have championed the rights of those protesting police violence against Black communities and have sought justice for victims and their families. Lawyers have fought to protect immigrants, including DACA recipients.
The authority to practice law in service of others comes with the duty to examine our own belief systems and our beliefs about our country’s values and heritage. What history has taught us is that civil rights movements are not silos. We are all connected, and each civil rights movement stands on the shoulders of others.
To that end, I want to close by quoting part of a recent statement by our NYLS OutLaws:
Let us commemorate Pride Month by remembering our beginnings. The first “Pride” was a riot in response to the police brutality that plagued the LGBTQ+ community only 51 years ago. It was direct action in response to gross injustice, not etiquette and police reform, that stopped state-sanctioned violence in our community. There would be no Pride without the Black trans women who fought on our behalf for justice and equality. They fought alone, making their voices heard when no one was willing to listen. Today, we must ensure that Black Americans are not fighting alone. We choose to honor the memory of our heroic predecessors by recommitting ourselves to the fight against police brutality and the oppression of Black people.
Thank you, and I hope you have a healthy, happy, and engaged Pride.