A national legal organization dedicated to advancing the civil and human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will hold a benefit party in Salt Lake City on Feb. 26.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a 33-year-old public interest law firm that regularly provides legal assistance to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and takes on cases about public policies affecting them. It has represented or assisted in a number of Utah cases including 2007’s Jones v. Barlow, in which Keri Jones sued for rights to visit a child she had conceived with former partner Cheryl Barlow, the child’s biological mother. The case was a loss for NCLR and resulted in the Utah Supreme Court ruling that non-biological, non-adoptive parents were, in effect, legal strangers to their children.
Jones is now Manager of Programs and Administration for statewide gay and transgender rights group Equality Utah.
NCLR’s Executive Director, Kate Kendall, said that she and legal director Shannon Minter decided to hold the benefit when Minter was scheduled for a speaking engagement at the Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy’s 2010 conference, “Controlling Sexuality through Violence, Shame and Cultural Oppression: Implications for Human Rights.” A former Utahn herself, Kendall said she wanted to take the opportunity to introduce the state’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and their allies to NCLR’s work.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with Equality Utah, and the main role we want to play with any state organization is to add whatever value we can,” she said. Although NCLR is not currently pursuing any active cases in the Beehive State, Kendall noted that the firm is currently working with family law attorneys in the state “mostly with technical assistance in helping LGBT folks protect their relationships and their relationships with their children, given that law in Utah is so bad on this.”
Further, Kendall said that NCLR is hoping to work with Equality Utah’s ongoing Common Ground Initiative, a push to get Utah municipal governments to pass nondiscrimination ordinances protecting gay and transgender people like the ones the Salt Lake City Council approved in 2009.
“What we provide for every state we work with is assistance in drafting legislation and any assistance with any litigation they want to be involved with,” she said.
The NCLR benefit party will be held at the home of John Poole from 7–9 p.m., and the address will be provided in RSVPs for the event which will be sent out shortly, according to Kendall. The suggested donation is $50, but donations of all sizes will be accepted. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.
“It’s a great time to hear about the work of NCLR and meat some really great people,” said Kendall.
Visit NCLR online at nclrights.org.