By C. Todd Norris
I attended my first Pride celebration in Minneapolis in 1992 just before starting law school at the University of Minnesota. Then, I thought of it more as an act of defiance than a celebration. I had just come out to my friends from college and my immediate family members in Ohio before moving to Minneapolis to start a new life with the intention that I would not hide my identity from anyone anymore. I marched in the Pride parade that year to be seen and to be counted. The event drew people from all over the Midwest. The City’s official crowd count was approximately 50,000 people, only a tenth the size of what it draws today, but still one of the largest in the nation at the time.
I rushed downstairs the next morning to see how it had been covered by the local paper. After flipping through page after page of large colorful photographs of the Swedish festival that had taken place that weekend (with only a small fraction of the number of people), I finally found it – a one-paragraph description next to a 2”x3” black & white photo captioned, “A drag queen hands out condoms at Pride.” I was furious. Yes, drag queens are absolutely an important part of our community and are in fact often credited with having ignited the LGBTQ+ movement itself, and yes, HIV awareness was even more important to our community in 1992 than perhaps it is today. But that small black & white photo at the very back of the cultural events section of the paper was the single representation the local paper chose to include? To say the least, the paper’s coverage of our enormously colorful and diverse community that had come together that weekend to show not just Minneapolis, but the entire nation that we exist, that we are your family members, your co-workers, your friends and your neighbors was woefully inadequate. I did not feel seen or counted. Continue reading “Something To Be Proud Of”
By Kristopher W. Peters
Grappling with your sexual orientation isn’t really fun, easy, convenient, or conducive to long-term happiness. At least for me it wasn’t. I’d characterize the whole experience as rather anxiety-inducing and stressful. I’m sure many of my LGBTQ counterparts would agree. I tackled coming to terms with being gay by eventually waking up one day and saying enough already, who cares? I was exhausted with grappling with that identity crisis and decided I had enough. But I was lucky; I confronted coming out of the closet from a position of privilege. Many members of our community don’t have that luxury.
After all, I’m a white man, from an economically stable and relatively progressive household. My mother, a native New Yorker, has long-been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. During the Windsor and Obergefell years, when I think LGBTQ rights really started gaining national attention and public support, she would always rant about it and ask, “what’s the big deal?” So while coming out was incredibly liberating and transformative to me personally, I also didn’t have to grapple with any sort of significant reckoning with key people in my life. A lot of LGBTQ folks, including some close friends, can’t say the same. Continue reading “Pride and Privilege”
By Rachael Cain
Hi everyone! I’m a lesbian and Texas expat, and I joined Duane Morris about three months ago. I’ve worked at a few different firms, and one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is being able to be myself at work. In my personal life, I’ve always been open about my sexuality, but I haven’t always been comfortable being out at work. Especially in Texas, I had to be careful about who I shared my personal life with, and I’ve had to deal with some people who don’t understand or accept LGBTQ people. For example, when I was married to my ex-wife in Texas, I didn’t tell my firm because I felt fairly certain that they would find some excuse to fire me if they knew I was a lesbian.
I came to New York specifically to find the elusive “queer community” and to live in a place that accepted me for who I am. And I have found that! I started two lesbian social groups (hit me up to join my Lesbian Walking Club!), enjoy frequenting a wealth of gay establishments, and have made a ton of queer social connections. However, I still wasn’t connecting my queer personal life in any way to my employment until I joined Duane Morris. When I came on board here, I was delighted to find a huge and active LGBTQ group already existed, and they routinely took on initiatives like pro bono representation, diversity retreats, and happy hours. They actively encourage people to think up new activities and support them in implementation. And not only did Duane Morris Pride immediately embrace me into the group, the firm’s straight counterparts celebrate and support their LGBTQ members. I finally feel like I can be myself at work, and I’ve been motivated to make more queer networking connections, seek out and perform pro bono work helping our community, and start a group specifically for queer lawyers. I’m also learning a lot and I’m excited about the future. Continue reading “Seeking Community”
By Edward Cramp
Clients of the Duane Morris law firm deserve the very best legal representation. It does not matter what kind of client they are. We have clients of all shapes and sizes. Some are publicly traded companies with large internal legal departments. Others are family businesses that have served their communities for generations. And, some are pro bono clients who need our advice to do good in the world.
Regardless of who the client is, they deserve the best. Our lawyers and staff can only give their best if they feel supported and accepted at work for who they are and who they love. Only then will they bring their whole self to the profession. Continue reading “Bring Your Whole Self”
By Ryan Wesley Brown
Planning a wedding is stressful, especially in our semi-post-COVID world, where the specter of another surge of illness still looms over any large event. But a new anxiety now hangs over my own wedding planning: legal impossibility. The Supreme Court majority is methodically laying the groundwork to unravel decades of hard-won civil rights battles, stare decisis be damned.
Public opinion on LGBTQ rights has shifted during recent years. For example, a 2021 Gallup Poll shows that 70% of Americans believe that same-sex couples should be entitled to legally protected marriage rights. National brands, including retailers, banks, and tech companies, have embraced Pride month as part of the annual cycle of holidays and marketing campaigns. Slotting neatly between the tent pole summer holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day, one might be tempted to believe that queer America has achieved some sort of immutable victory in the fight for equality. Continue reading “Tiny Protests: Living Pride Every Day”
By David E. Watson
That was my first reaction when Ed Cramp mentioned he wanted to start a firm wide LGBTQ affinity group.
There’s no overt discrimination at the firm. The fact that anyone might be LGBTQ seemed to be completely irrelevant here. So why bother? Plus, I wanted to be known as a lawyer, not a gay lawyer. Continue reading “Why?”
Duane Morris LLP received a score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation’s premiere benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality. Duane Morris LLP joins the ranks of more than 680 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year.
The results of this year’s CEI showcase how 1059 U.S.-based companies are not only promoting LGBTQ-friendly workplace policies in the U.S., but helping advance the cause of LGBTQ inclusion in workplaces abroad. Duane Morris LLP’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria earned a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:
- Non-discrimination policies
- Employment benefits
- Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBTQ diversity and inclusion
- Public commitment to LGBT equality
- Responsible citizenship
The full report is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.
Visit the Duane Morris website for more information about Duane Morris LLP’s diversity and inclusion efforts.