Gay in Court

Local GLBT lawyers sworn to Supreme Court

Attorneys from GAYLAW, a local organization of GLBT attorneys, made a bit of history Tuesday morning, as they were sworn-in to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. The May 29 ceremony marked the first time in the organization’s 17-year history that attorneys from the group were sworn into the Supreme Court en masse.

”It was very exciting. The court was very welcoming,” says GAYLAW Co-President Jeremy Brumbelow, one of the 19 GAYLAW attorneys participating in the ceremony. ”I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a position to argue before the Supreme Court, but now I have my membership.”

Joining Brumbelow before seven of the Supreme Court justices — Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were absent — were fellow GAYLAW attorneys Jason Forman and Brett Snyder. Forman, who serves on the GAYLAW board of directors, and Snyder also share more than an interest in the law; they are partners in the romantic sense, having met about four years ago through a common GAYLAW friend. Forman also took the lead on making the arrangements for the swearing-in ceremony.

”It was very exciting as an attorney,” Forman says of the ceremony, adding that he’s fully aware of its context. ”In the 1950s, lawyers were hiding their sexuality from the courts, the bars, colleagues …. Things may not be perfect, but that era seems to have passed.”

Brumbelow says the attorneys and their guests began the day in an ornate conference room of the Supreme Court, enjoying a continental breakfast with their guests as Court Clerk William Suter talked them though the morning’s events. ”He was very welcoming, glad to have us there,” says Brumbelow.

By the 10 a.m. swearing-in appointment, the attorneys had been ushered to their seats within the courtroom in front of the justices. GAYLAW Director Peter Glazer, already a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court, read the oath to the GAYLAW attorneys, says Brumbelow,

In a statement released to mark the event, Brumbelow said, ”This ceremony marks the first time in U.S. Supreme Court history that a large contingent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lawyers will be sworn-in at once, in open court. … We also hope to remind the justices that we practice law as open and proud Americans in every segment of the profession — private, non-profit and government.”

Following the ceremony, Brumbelow expanded upon that sentiment. ”I never dreamed, in college or law school, that this would be a non-issue. It just struck me as extremely exciting to be able to do that as a gay group. When the clerk called our name out, that kind of public recognition was, in a subtle way, very important. … It says we’re a big group, and you’re going to be seeing us. It sends a signal that we’re here and we have a place at the table.”

Both Brumbelow and Forman confirmed that GAYLAW will make U.S. Supreme Court swearing-in ceremonies an ongoing tradition. Brumbelow did offer one hope he has for the next swearing in.

”I hope Justices Scalia and Thomas will be there next time.”

For more information about GAYLAW, go to www.gaylaw.org.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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