The MLBA supports the belief that all people should be treated with dignity and respect and have the same opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. When key issues of concern to the LGBTQ+ community arise, the board of directors will discuss and vote on policy initiatives that uphold fairness and justice. Policy decisions are determined by a majority vote of the board of directors.
Message to Our Members: June 5, 2018
On June 4, 2018, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This case involved a bakery’s refusal to provide a wedding cake for a gay couple on the basis of its owner’s religious objections to gay marriage. Although the Supreme Court unfortunately ruled for the bakery, the decision was based on the unique circumstances of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s handling of the baker’s complaint, which the Court concluded had not provided the baker with a neutral decision-maker. As a result of this procedural defect, the Court ruled that the Commission’s order must be set aside.
This decision does not validate discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people on the basis of religious liberty. Unfortunately, it does nothing to settle the matter either, and does not clarify the legal boundaries between permitted religious expression and prohibited discrimination.
Sadly, as the facts of this case demonstrate, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people is alive and well, and there is still significant progress to be made toward equality and justice. The MLBA will continue to work toward creating a Minnesota where all LGBTQIA+ legal professionals, clients, and community members are treated equally and without discrimination.
MLBA is actively planning a Continuing Legal Education event on the decision and its ramifications and will provide details in a future newsletter.
Message to our Members: May 2018
The board of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association is pleased to share the following update regarding our ongoing advocacy concerning the Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education (MBCLE) review and approval Application/Event Code #251074—Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Moment/Saint Paul—for CLE credit.
One of MLBA’s board members brought the lecture and pending CLE application to the attention of the MLBA board. The lecture had been part of a day-long religious symposium presented by Saint Paul Seminary, that sought to equip both religious and lay leaders with language and insight that opposes transgender identities.
On December 14, 2017, the MLBA board submitted an opposition letter notifying MBCLE that such programming failed to (i) meet CLE general standards; (ii) meet criteria that would qualify such programming for any of the Special Categories that may qualify for CLE credit; and (iii) support both MBCLE and Minnesota State Bar Association’s efforts to advance diversity and inclusion.
In March 2018, MBCLE notified the MLBA board that MBCLE staff had approved the lecture for CLE credit over the objection of the MLBA. Later that month, the MLBA has learned that the lecture was available online. After reviewing the recording, the MLBA remained convinced that the lecture espoused both discriminatory and transphobic messaging that is inconsistent with the professional development of lawyers. Further, MLBA believed that if unchecked, the MBCLE’s approval of this CLE application might open the gate and embolden other lecturers to seek approval of programming in the same vein of this CLE application that is designed to unpin concerted efforts within the legal profession to eliminate biases against any protected class.
On May 9, 2018, MLBA submitted a second formal letter to MBCLE. In the letter, we renewed our concerns and requested to be heard at the MBCLE’s May 17, 2018 board meeting. MBCLE responded by inviting us to the meeting and allowing us time on the agenda. We reached out to the leadership of other affinity bar associations and requested their support. We received responses from Minnesota Women Lawyers, Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, and Minnesota State Bar Association, and each of those organizations (including the current MSBA president) submitted letters of support to MBCLE.
One of our board members attended the MBCLE board meeting on May 17, 2018 and delivered remarks concerning not only the specific concerns the MLBA had raised regarding the approval of the lecture for CLE credit, but also a compelling message regarding the dignity of transgender people and the painful repercussions of transphobic rhetoric.
We are very pleased to share that we learned late yesterday that MBLE has made the unprecedented and historic decision to rescind approval for a CLE course: “… the Board did vote to revoke credit to course 251074 based on inconsistencies between the actual course and the application. The changes have been made in OASIS and St. Thomas has been notified.”
This is a tremendous outcome, and it was particularly poignant that we received this news on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
We will continue to advocate for justice when we see issues like this arise. Thank you for your membership and support of MLBA.
Message to our Members: November 12, 2016
Like all of you, we, the undersigned members of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association Board of Directors, have been processing the lessons learned from this week’s presidential election. Regardless of political party or affiliation, we are gravely concerned about the real-life implications of the President-Elect’s anti-LGBT platform, such as his support of the First Amendment Defense Act.
Oppose Deferral Period for Blood Donations
Passed: July 2016
Resolved: Because every individual, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, deserves the ability to engage in and help their community, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) strongly opposes the current Food & Drug Administration (FDA)’s twelve-month deferral periods on blood donations by both men who have sexual intercourse with men and women who have had sexual intercourse with a man who has had sex with another man. We feel it is necessary for the FDA to lift these discriminatory deferral periods.
MLBA has three main reasons for this opposition:
First, the term deferral is misleading. A twelve-month deferral amounts to a de facto ban on all persons engaging in sexually activity with a man who has had sex with men.
Second, the deferral is redundant. The FDA requires all establishments that collect blood or blood components to screen test each donation of human blood or blood component for communicable disease agents (21 C.F.R. 610.40). Because the screening of blood already occurs, the risk of blood having communicable disease agents when involved in a secondary use has already been mitigated.
Third, the MLBA stands with the opinion of public health professionals on this matter. In 2013, the American Medical Association recommended that the FDA change its policy so that gay men and women (who have had sex with men that have had sex with men) are evaluated on an individual level rather than being lumped together in a “high-risk” category. This twelve-month deferral period applies without considerations of other metrics of health, which is discriminatory.
The Board calls upon its members to take meaningful action. Action in this context includes contacting Congressional representatives to task the FDA to substantially reduce or eliminate the discriminatory deferral period.
Oppose Discrimination and Marginalization of Transgender Youth
Passed: March 14, 2015
Resolved: Because each young person deserves to be able to fully participate in school, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) strongly opposes any effort to deny transgender students the opportunity to take part in their school’s activities, and use the facilities, as the gender they live every day. The proposed bills would reverse the Minnesota State High School League’s policy that allows transgender students to play on teams that match the gender they live every day, while limiting transgender students’ ability to use locker rooms and restrooms. The Board calls upon its members to take meaningful action, including contacting their legislators, to oppose SF1543/HF1546 and HF1547 or any similar bills that would discriminate against transgender students.
Banning Conversion Therapy
Passed: March 14, 2015
Resolved: Because no lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer person should be subjected to harmful conversion therapy tactics, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) supports the passage of the Protection from Conversion Therapy Act in 2015. This legislation bans conversion therapy (also known as “ex-gay” or reparative therapy) for youth and vulnerable adults; and prohibits medical assistance funding for conversion therapy. The Board calls upon its members to take meaningful action, including contacting their legislators, to support SF1213/HF1620 this legislative session.
Safe and Supportive Schools
Passed: March 14, 2015
Resolved: Because every student deserves a safe and supportive school environment, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) supported the passage of the Safe & Supportive Minnesota Schools Act in 2014. This legislation provides clear definitions of bullying and harassment, enumerates protections for all students, and provides training and resources for educators on bullying prevention and intervention. The MLBA Board of Directors strongly opposes any effort to weaken the law, including SF221/HF102. The Board calls upon its members to take meaningful action, including contacting their legislators, to oppose SF221/HF102 or any other similar efforts.
Passed: March 17, 2014
Resolved: Because current Minnesota law does not adequately protect jurors from discrimination, and because any form of discrimination undermines our justice system, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) supports the passage of HF335. This legislation would add sexual orientation, which by statutory definition includes gender identity, and marital status to current prohibitions against juror discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, economic status or a physical or sensory disability. The Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) Board of Directors calls upon its members to take meaningful action, including contacting their legislators, to pass this legislation.
Comprehensive Safe Schools
Passed: March 17, 2014
Resolved: Because every student deserves a safe and supportive school environment, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) supports passage of the Safe & Supportive Minnesota Schools Act (HF826). This legislation provides clear definitions of bullying and harassment, enumerates protections for all students, and provides training and resources for educators on bullying prevention and intervention. It’s time for Minnesota to go from having the weakest anti-bullying law in the country to having the strongest. The Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) Board of Directors calls upon its members to take meaningful action, including contacting their legislators, to pass the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act in 2014.
Voter Restriction Amendment
Passed: October 12, 2012
MLBA strongly opposed the voter restriction amendment.
Resolved: The Voter Restriction/Voter ID Amendment is unnecessary, costly and, if approved, could systematically exclude tens of thousands of eligible voters from exercising their rights at the polls simply because they lack a state-issued ID. Passage of this constitutional amendment would place an unnecessary burden on many Minnesota voters, including but not limited to students, seniors, active-duty military members, people who are homeless, and many people of color. Because this harmful amendment would contract the power and participation in our democratic process, the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA) Board of Directors calls upon its members to take deliberate and meaningful action to defeat the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would restrict voter rights; specifically, MLBA members are urged to speak with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the need to oppose this constitutional amendment, and to become involved in organized efforts to defeat the amendment.
Passed: Late 2011
MLBA strongly opposed the anti-marriage amendment and passed the Minnesota State Bar Association’s resolution in late 2011. We also worked with other minority bar associations to encourage their adoption of this position:
Resolved: That the Minnesota State Bar Association opposes an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution to forbid the creation of legally-recognized relationships between persons of the same sex.
Anoka-Hennepin School District Litigation
Passed: November 8, 2011
THEREFORE, let it be resolved that the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association supports the Southern Poverty Law Center, Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in their litigation effort against Anoka‐Hennepin School District (Minnesota ISD 11) regarding the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, which bars educators within the school district from openly supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered students or acknowledging the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered students.
REPORT: The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Faegre Baker Daniels law firm filed a federal law suit on behalf of five Anoka‐Hennepin students who have faced severe anti‐lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying and harassment. The school district currently enforces a gag policy, known officially as the “Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy.” That policy prohibits staff from supporting LGBT students or acknowledging the existence of LGBT people. The policy creates an environment of discrimination that permits and fosters bullying. The MLBA supports this litigation to end a policy that treats LGBT students differently from their heterosexual counterparts; it aligns with our mission to support a community of equality and justice.