DAYL President’s Page
Muhlaysia Booker. Chynal Lindsey. Brittany White. At least three black transgender women were murdered in our city over the past year. Two of them were lost this past summer. While arrests have been made and prosecutions are forthcoming, our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters understandably still reel from this violence. This violence shook our community, and inevitably, it has implications for DAYL. You may or may not know, but DAYL is proud to count not only gay and lesbian members of the LGBTQ+ community, but also transgender men and women, among our membership ranks. They may not comprise a majority of our membership, but they are nonetheless ours— our friends, our neighbors. Their concerns are our own.
Their inclusion, recognition, and equality are all goals we still pursue. We’re not there yet. But many of you reading this have been hard at work, both silently and overtly, to ensure that everybody’s in– and everybody’s welcome– in the DAYL tent. DAYL has witnessed incredible progress in Dallas over the past several years, but we’ve also seen our community take dangerous steps back. The tragic deaths of these three women are the latest evidence that more must be done.
Our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters also face more regular, insidious obstacles in their everyday lives, more common than the terrible violence from a handful of hateful murderers. They also face trepidation in the workplace, making them apprehensive to live openly with their colleagues, fearful of the consequences for their careers. They also face the regular slights that befall any minority in America today– a dour or condemning look from a person on the street, silent or backhanded hostility from a total stranger, or inattention– sometimes purposeful and intentional– from service providers. The Texas state Senate even passed a bill in April that allows state-licensed professionals–including lawyers– to deny services to a person based on a “sincerely held religious belief,” bringing about an unacceptable possibility– that our LGBTQ+ neighbors might be denied legal services solely because of their identity.
The struggle of our LGBTQ+ neighbors is the same as every group that has struggled for freedom and equality in our community in the past. They struggle for more than legal equality on paper– they seek acceptance, inclusion, and a seat at the table. They face countervailing headwinds that we young lawyers must meet head-on at their side. Their struggle is our own.
We all need to work to make sure everyone is not only legally or technically included, but we must also ensure they feel welcome. DAYL has been at work to hold our brothers and sisters closer for years. I’m proud of the work of our Lawyers Promoting Diversity committee over the past decade-plus to expand DAYL’s tent to include more and more folks every day. DAYL of course has enjoyed its first-ever #LadyBoard this year, evidencing the advances of women lawyers in our community. Our Aid to the Homeless committee led over 20 volunteers to Cathedral of Hope in May to serve breakfast to hundreds of homeless LGBTQ+ individuals in Dallas. And I’ve also witnessed many of our board members rise to support the burgeoning Dallas LGBT Bar Association, which seeks to provide a home and forum for LGBTQ+ folks and their allies who share an interest in the laws that affect and protect the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. There are many reasons to believe DAYL will be there in the future as our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors achieve even greater progress.
Many folks may feel distanced from these issues because they themselves are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or they do not have someone in their life that is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Heck, that person may be you. And that’s okay. We welcome you to join the Aid to the Homeless committee for their next visit to the Cathedral of Hope to serve breakfast. We’d also encourage you to visit the Dallas Resource Center, perhaps the foremost source of health and medical services for LGBTQ+ individuals and HIV/AIDS patients in Dallas, where you can hear countless stories of how they provide vital services for disenfranchised members of the community every day. The Dallas LGBT Bar Association is also hosting several events in the coming weeks, including a CLE on September 26 entitled, “Are LGBTQ+ Rights in Jeopardy?” There is so much to be gained from listening.
DAYL recently reiterated its commitment to inclusion of all persons and communities– including the LGBTQ+ community– in a resolution adopted at our April board meeting. While these are merely words on a piece of paper, they do mean something, and we hope they signal to everyone reading this that our door is open to every young lawyer in Dallas, no matter their gender or sexual orientation:
“WHEREAS, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers supports the rule of law and its equitable and just application to all citizens regardless of sex, race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or religion;
WHEREAS, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers maintains a policy of openness and inclusion in its membership, inviting all young lawyers to be members and make meaningful contributions in support of DAYL’s dual mission to serve young lawyers and the Dallas Community;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers continually commits itself to fostering, creating, recruiting, and implementing a diverse and vibrant membership and leadership without regard to sex, race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or religion.”
While these words are merely a continuation and embodiment of longstanding efforts by DAYL, they also represent a start– a pushing-off point– for even greater progress. We welcome you to engage with DAYL’s board and its committees to achieve more equality, more inclusion, and more justice as we #BuildDAYL, and as we build our community, in the coming months and years.