Fried Frank proudly hosted its 15th annual Michael R. Diehl Civil Rights Forum on Tuesday, July 15, 2015 at the Crosby Street Hotel in New York City. The event, titled “Balancing Liberties: The Tension between LGBT Civil Rights and Religious Exemptions,” featured guest speakers Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University; Rose Saxe, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project; and Walter Olson, Senior Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Studies at the CATO Institute. To view the full presentation, please click here.
The panelists, moderated by Fried Frank litigation associate and LGBT Attorney Affinity Group Co-Chair Jesse R. Loffler, discussed the growth in attempts - some successful - to pass religious exemptions to laws providing civil rights equality to LGBT persons. They also discussed whether LGBT civil rights and religious liberty in said context are mutually exclusive, and, if so, where compromises must be drawn in a progressive, pluralistic, and modern society.
To honor the legacy of Michael R. Diehl, a Fried Frank corporate associate who died in a tragic swimming accident in 1999 and was known for his dedication to the cause of civil rights for the gay and lesbian community, the Firm established the annual Michael R. Diehl Civil Rights Forum in 2000. Presented by the Firm's LGBT Attorney Affinity Group, the forum has featured prominent civic leaders to engage the Fried Frank community in a discussion of current civil rights and social justice issues and concerns. Previous forums have included discussions of opportunities for and challenges to advancing LGBT rights domestically and internationally, the historic Supreme Court rulings in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry, and the impact of LGBT rights on presidential politics including President Obama's unprecedented public stance supporting same-sex marriage and his refusal to prosecute the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Fried Frank's LGBT Attorney Affinity Group seeks to build upon the Firm's longstanding commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse community and to increasing understanding of and involvement in the unique issues facing the LGBT community. The Group spearheads several pro bono representation efforts of interest, from groundbreaking family law litigations involving same-sex couples to name-change petitions for transgender clients, and maintains strong relationships with important organizations like Lambda Legal Defense & Education Organization, Immigration Equality and Service members United. Click here to learn more about the Firm's Diversity & Inclusion program.