Speaking at Sidetrack on July 26, Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred recalled that, since she has argued a number of cases on behalf of LGBT clients, she's frequently been asked by men if she's a lesbian.
Not one to mince words, Allred's answer is always the same: "Are you the alternative?"
Allred, who has handled a number of high-profile cases in the last several decades, came to Chicago in support of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago ( LAGBAC ) Foundation's 14th Annual Lawyers for Diversity Midsummer BBQ. She recounted a number of anecdotes about her work on LGBT cases, as well as discussing her thoughts on President Donald Trump, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Among her clients was a lesbian couple who went to a Los Angeles restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, and were ejected from booths intended for couples. That case, and the ensuing publicity, was "the first time people saw women on TV who were lesbian, demanding their rights," Allred said, noting that the case set a precedent for discrimination cases.
She recalled fighting anti-LGBT discrimination at a time when business owners felt emboldened enough to take out newspaper ads defending why they were not treating their LGBT clientele equally.
"In those days, people were very proud of what they thought was their right to discriminate," Allred said.
She had a run-in with Trump several years back when she defended a woman in the Miss Canada Universe pageant who was told the contest was only open to cisgender women.
Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant, taunted Allred in the media, by saying she'd probably "love to see what's under my pants."
Allred shot back, "I don't have a magnifying glass strong enough to see something so small."
Jokes about the president aside, Allred expressed her alarm over Kavanaugh's nomination, especially as it relates to the potential for overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Decades ago, before that decision was handed down, Allred received a "back-alley" abortion, an incident she discussed July 26, and has subsequently been active in reproductive-rights.
"I never want another woman to have to go through that," she said.
Allred also praised Illinois' recent ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; it was the 37th state to do so.
"We are going to continue that battle to get the 38th state and get that deadline [for ratification by the states] removed," she said.
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Marie Burke was honored at the July 26 event, especially for her work in helping to found the Special Olympics in 1968. In her remarks, she noted the similarities in progress made by the disability- and LGBT-rights movements.
"It's not that long ago that your community, and children and adults with intellectual differences, were [both communities who were] forgotten, ignored and pushed to the sidelines," she said.
LAGBAC Foundation President Jeremy Gottschalk introduced Allred and Burke.