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NYC: Same-Sex Marriage Panel on Thursday March 5 --> Celebrating 20 years of Yale Club Events!
written by Natasha, 12/8/14 7:30pm
edited by Natasha, 2/23/15 9:19am

RSVP required to Join us on Thursday March 5, 6:30 - 9 PM at the Yale Club for a lively discussion with Marc Solomon (Freedom to Marry), Susan Sommer (Lambda Legal) and James Esseks (ACLU) -- moderated by Professor George Chauncey

The Yale Club of NYC (YCNYC) and Yale GALA are joining to celebrate our 20+ years of partnership with a series of events, the first of which is below:




When: Thursday, March 5, 2015, 6:30 - 9 PM.  6:30 PM wine & cheese reception, 7-9 PM panel 
What: Same-Sex Marriage Marriage Panel at the Yale Club of NYC.
Where: Yale Club of NYC, 50 Vanderbilt Ave (across from Grand Central Station), NYC. Room TBA
Cost: Free but RSVP required. 
RSVP: Reservations are required in advance by emailing, as space is limited

Questions?: Write Mickey Dobbs ( or Natasha (

To commemorate 20 years of partnership between Yale GALA: Yale's LGBT Alumni Association (GALA) and The Yale Club of New York City, we are pleased to host this special panel on same-sex marriage just a month before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in marriage equality cases from four states.  

Join GALA and the YCNYC for a panel featuring two lawyers involved in the cases pending before the Court, an activist who has led marriage equality campaigns in Massachusetts, California, and nationwide, and an LGBT historian who has participated in several marriage cases:

James Esseks Yale MC ’87, Director of the ACLU’s LGBT & AIDS Rights Project;
Susan Sommer Yale BR ’83, Yale JD ’86, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal;
Marc Solomon Yale BK ’89, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry; and
George Chauncey Yale ’77, PhD ’89, Samuel Knight Professor of History at Yale

A short reception at 6:30 pm will be followed by the panel at 7:00 pm  examining the cases before the court, how we got here, and the work remaining to be done.  As space is limited, reservations are required in advance by emailing

The full bios of our three speakers and our moderator appear below.

This is the first of a series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Yale Club of NYC and Yale GALA working together. The first Yale GALA event at the Yale Club was in 1994: Yale and the Lesbian and Gay Rights Movement’, with Larry Kramer, William Rubinstein, Marty Duberman, Donna Minkowitz, Candida Scott Piel. and Donald Suggs (RIP Donald), and organized by Monty Freeman.  TRANSCRIPT URL TO BE ADDED. 

More info:

Bios of the four Marriage Panel Speakers

1. MARC SOLOMON is the National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry. He is Yale BK '89, BA in Economics and Political Science (magna cum laude) and Harvard (John F. Kennedy School of Government).  

Marc is
 a preeminent front-line leader in the movement to win and protect marriage for same-sex couples, having worked on the cause full-time since 2004.  He also authored the book Winning Marriage (2014).

At Freedom to Marry Marc directs the organization’s programs to win marriage nationwide. In thirteen years of work on marriage, he has led the campaign to protect marriage in Massachusetts and played leading roles in New York, Illinois, California, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, and elsewhere. He has initiated programs to make advances with both the Democratic and Republican parties and has led efforts to enlist elected officials and business leaders to the cause. He is a regular media spokesperson on local and national television, radio and in print, and is quoted frequently inThe New York TimesThe Washington PostPolitico, The Associated Press, and elsewhere.

Prior to joining Freedom to Marry, Marc served as Executive Director of MassEquality, where he led the campaign to defeat two constitutional amendments in the first freedom-to-marry state in the nation (Massachusetts), beating back attacks by the Catholic Church, President George W. Bush, Gov. Mitt Romney, and the right-wing anti-gay industry. Following this victory, Marc consulted with state-wide equality organizations in Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine, and served as marriage director of Equality California following the passage of Proposition 8.

Marc has extensive background in advocacy, public policy, and media, having served as a policy adviser to Senator Jack Danforth (R-MO) in Washington, D.C. and researcher for Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward. Marc has won multiple awards for his work on the cause. In May 2009, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick presented Marc with the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s prestigious Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award, given yearly to an individual who espouses FDR’s ideals "with respect to democracy, justice, individual freedoms, and citizenship." In March of 2013, Boston-based Fenway Health presented Marc with its Congressman Gerry E. Studds Visibility Award for service and leadership to the LGBT community. In 1999, the Rockefeller Foundation named Marc one of 24 of America’s next generation leaders and invited him to participate in its prestigious two-year Next Generation Leadership fellowship program.

2. SUSAN SOMMER is the National Director of Constitutional Litigation and Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal.  She is Yale BR '83, BA in American Studies (Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude) and Yale LAW '86 (Notes Editor at the Yale Law & Policy Review).

Susan handles groundbreaking litigation in all areas of Lambda Legal's work, including fighting for equal recognition of same-sex relationships, fighting for the rights of lesbian and gay parents and battling antigay discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and law enforcement.

Susan is the director of Lambda Legal's Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project, which aims to ensure that LGBT youth in foster care are safe and supported. She leads a historic joint partnership between Lambda Legal and the Child Welfare League of America that will make LGBT youth a clear priority for state and local children's agencies around the country. 

Susan was the lead attorney on Lambda Legal's lawsuit that convinced the Arkansas Supreme Court to strike down the state's antigay sodomy law and clearly identify a right to privacy in the state's Constitution for the first time. She played a key role in Lawrence v. Texas, Lambda Legal's landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" law.

A seasoned litigator, Susan came to Lambda Legal from Lankler Siffert & Wohl in New York, where she specialized in commercial, securities, antitrust, not-for-profit federal and state civil litigation, white collar criminal defense, and regulatory and attorney disciplinary proceedings. Earlier, Susan taught at Brooklyn Law School and was a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell. After Yale Law School Susan clerked for U.S. District Court Judge William Schwarzer in the Northern District of California.

3. JAMES ESSEKS is the Director of the ACLU's LGBT & AIDS Project.  He is Yale MC '87, BA in Anthropology and JD Harvard Law (Editor in Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review).

James joined the ACLU's LGBT and AIDS Project as Litigation Director in 2001 and has been in his current position since 2010.  James oversees litigation, lobbying, policy advocacy, organizing, and public education work nationwide that aims to ensure equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by the government; equal rights and protections for LGBT couples and families; protection from discrimination in jobs, schools, housing, and public accommodations; and fair treatment by the government of people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to joining the ACLU, he was a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., in New York. After Harvard Law School he clerked for U.S. Judge James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Carter in the Southern District of New York. 

4. GEORGE CHAUNCEY is the Samuel Knight Professor of History & American Studies at Yale University.  George also received his doctorate in History from Yale in 1989.  His fields of interest include US: 20th century US social, cultural, and urban history; Lesbian & gay history; and History of gender & sexuality

George Chauncey joined the Yale History Department in the fall of 2006 as professor in the fields of twentieth-century US history and lesbian and gay history.  He previously taught for fifteen years at the University of Chicago, as well as for shorter stints at Rutgers, New York University, and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.  In 2012 George was awarded the Sidonie Miskimin Clauss Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities. He is co-director of the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities and has served as the chair of the History Department, chair of LGBT Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for American Studies

Professor Chauncey is best known for his book Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (Basic, 1994), which won the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Prize for the best book in social history and Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for the best first book in any field of history, as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Lambda Literary Award. He has also published Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate over Gay Equality (Basic, 2004) and co-edited three books and special journal issues. He is currently completing another book, The Strange Career of the Closet: Race, The City, and Gay Culture and Politics from the Second World War to the Gay Liberation Era.

Since 1993, Chauncey has participated as a historian in more than twenty gay rights cases, including four that reached the Supreme Court.  He organized and was lead author of the Historians’ Amicus Brief in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which overturned the nation’s remaining sodomy laws, and he testified as an expert witness on the history of antigay discrimination in Romer v. Evans (1996) and the two same-sex marriage cases decided in 2013: Hollingsworth v. Perry, which invalidated California’s Prop 8 and restored the right to marry to that state’s gay couples, and  Windsor v. United States, which struck down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act.  He has also served as historical consultant to numerous public history projects, including exhibitions and lecture series at the New York Public Library, Chicago History Museum, and New-York Historical Society, and several documentary films.  He is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.


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