LGBT Bar LA was founded in 1979 under the original designation, Lawyers for Human Rights in deference to social pressures of the day and professional concerns of some of its members. In earlier years, many gay and lesbian attorneys were confronted with blatant discrimination based on their sexual orientation, whether it was perceived or real. So it made sense that thirty years ago, the association chose a name that suited the group's goals but did not include the words gay or lesbian." In the 1990s, the association adopted the acronym name LHR: The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association as a transition from the association's historic title to a more out-of-the-closet name that would more adequately express the ongoing struggle for equality and celebrate the hard-fought freedoms that our community was beginning to enjoy. That transition is now complete.
On October 19, 2002, at its Twenty-First Annual Dinner LHR: The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association announced that it had adopted a new name: The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, which would also become known by a more pride-filled acronym tag LGLA. The name change was approved by a vote of the membership and adopted by the Board of Governors to better reflect who the members of the association are and what the association does. As then Co-President C. Abigail Dees stated, "This momentous decision to change our name did not come easily. The name Lawyers for Human Rights became so much more than what was likely ever envisioned. But we are now, at long last, coming out!"
In November 2015, the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles once again changed its name, to the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, a change that was a long time coming, and made far more easily than the earlier name change. The new name, approved with overwhelming support from the Board of Governors and the membership, reflects the organization's commitment to ensuring that it represents and is welcoming and supportive of trans and bisexual attorneys and members of our community. It also represents a shift in understanding, not only of the need to visibly and fundamentally include the trans community and bisexuals in the group, but also also of the LGBT Bar's role as a formal bar association in the greater Los Angeles legal community.
In the more than 35 years since its founding LGBT Bar LA has grown to represent a relevant, multi cultural, open and active bar association of LGBT lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals.
Today, LGBT Bar LA continues its mission by advocating for the concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lawyers by making judicial endorsements, writing and signing on to amicus briefs, participating in Los Angeles County Bar Association programs, holding representation on the State Bar's Conference of Delegates, providing educational and networking opportunities and hosting social events for its members. As an affiliate member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association LGBT Bar LA s dedicated to furthering justice and equality and the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues throughout California and around the nation including the attainment of marriage equality and the hard-fought repeal of the U.S. Military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
LGBT Bar LA regularly presents educational and social events, including the Annual Dinner Gala, Annual Luncheon, Fourth of July event at the Hollywood Bowl, Summer Associate Reception, Law Student Reception, Annual Holiday Party, meetings with topical speakers, and numerous other socio-political events. LGBT Bar LA is also a State Bar certified Continuing Legal Education Provider and regularly holds CLE events. In keeping with its mission of education and advocacy LGBT Bar LA offers the William J. Clayton Student Mentorship Program to provide licensed attorney mentors to law students from of California’s most prominent law schools. LGBT Bar LA also administers and raises funds for the Donald L. Snow Scholarship, which is awarded to deserving law students each year.
Now that the legal battle for marriage equality has been won across the nation, LGBT Bar LA along with other many other local and national LGBT organizations along with other grassroots groups and straight allies shall continue to fight for what is right and hopefully serve as a beacon of justice in the darkness of intolerance to help illuminate a path toward full equality for everyone.