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Law-school symposium looks at LGBT rights
by Jamie Anne Royce
2013-02-27

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IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law hosted the LGBT Civil Rights Symposium Feb. 22 to discuss legal issues related to marriage equality and LGBT people in the workplace.

The symposium, themed "We Are Not Alone," kicked off with a performance of "Repentance," professor Henry Perritt's original short play about a gay law student who is considering going back into the closet as he enters the job market.

One of the concerns raised in the play was outing yourself in your resume by including work with LGBT organizations and legal associations.

"It's me saying very forcefully that I am a gay person interviewing for a job at a law firm, and how does that affect me getting this job?" said William Lopez, one of the actors in the play.

A panel discussion on sexual orientation employment discrimination, including the emergence of gay-on-gay claims, followed the performance. Participants were each handed a case study and panelists—including legal practitioners Hon. William Borah, Scott Gilbert, Aaron Maduff and Lopez—discussed the potential outcomes of the cases.

Because there is no federal non-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation, and local and state legislation is spotty, many cases of employment discrimination are handled as sexual harassment cases or gender-based discrimination.

Maduff used a real-life example from the sexual-harassment lawsuit he is leading against Chicago's Spin Nightclub, quoting inappropriate sexual comments alleged by his client against the manager. That case is currently headed for trial.

A second panel of speakers discussed recent developments in the legal landscape of marriage equality. Panelists included Katharine Baker, professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law; Karen Sheley of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois; and Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal. They tackled the recent marriage equality vote in Illinois as well as the legal contract of marriage.

A reception sponsored by the Chicago-Kent LAMBDAs, an organization of gay and straight law students, closed the symposium.


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