The National LGBT Bar Association Conference was held this past week, Thursday through Sunday.
The most important development, from my point of view, came in an area about which I have not spent much thought or time: trans military service. I'm not a fan of war (who is?), and like Ike, I have my questions about the military-industrial complex, but I'm thankful there are people who are willing to sacrifice their lives to preserve my freedom. In the wake of last year's repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Association for the first time hosted military recruiters at its career fair, including the United State Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, the United States Army Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School, and the United States Coast Guard Office of the Judge Advocate General.
The Association has encouraged firms at the career fair to consider including gender identity/expression, and over 80% of the recruiters at this year's fair have non-discrimination policies explicitly including gender identity. I think that all recruiters who come to recruit at the LGBT Bar Association should have such policies. Military recruiters are in a special category. Not only do they not have such a policy, their regulations actively prohibit service by openly trans people. This, obviously, is very troubling. At the same time, I think it would be a good thing if LGB lawyers join Judge Advocate Generals and help from the inside on the issue of trans military service. The scales on this issue are very tippy, and it's not clear to me exactly where the balance lies. The Association chose to host them at the conference.
Nonetheless, regardless of how I might have felt about hosting military recruits, I am very happy that this year's conference began the first open forum on trans military service by a national organization. It was a plenary session attended by the whole conference, and thousands of attorneys heard about the legal issues and the personal stories underlying them. In addition, the Association will be holding open discussions around the country during the coming year on this issue. The video of the forum after the jump. It was extremely moving, and poignantly demonstrated the importance of this issue, even to a skeptic like me.