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  WINDY CITY TIMES

A lawyer's fight for LGBT justice
by Paul Marinkovich
2009-04-15

This article shared 2490 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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Camilla Taylor has the job of her dreams. She is the senior staff attorney in the Midwest Regional office at Lambda Legal, a national legal organization that specializes in civil rights for the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS.

Since joining Lambda Legal in 2002, Taylor has dedicated her entire legal practice to fighting for the LGBT community. Her cases emcompass everything from family law to criminal law.

"This is the civil-rights issue of my generation," Taylor said to Windy City Times, speaking of the LGBT equality movement. "I knew since law school that this is what I wanted to do. At Lambda Legal, we have a real privilege to be able to select cases that are likely to push the law in the right direction. It is wonderful to be that selective and to be able to craft a strategy that simply tries to move forward. You get to go home every night, thinking, 'I did my best to work for the good guys today'—and very few people get to say that."

Taylor has been the Midwest Region's lead architect for the Marriage Project. She has been representing six gay and lesbian couples in a marriage equality lawsuit in Iowa since 2005. Recently, Taylor and her team experienced a huge victory when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay and lesbian couples have the same constitutional right to obtain marriage licenses, as heterosexual couples.

"I am just over the moon—I am thrilled," exclaimed Taylor. "It was a very long journey, we filed the lawsuit in 2005 and we've been working with some of these couples for years prior to that. These families, I can't say enough about their bravery. We came to know them very well over the last couple of years and they were just tremendously courageous. I really think it was one of the two happiest days of my life, winning this case. I count the other happiest day of my life, the day I married my husband. I was thinking on the day that the decision came down, that that was really an apt comparison. The fact that it should jump into my head was appropriate because this was about was helping other people feel the affirmations of their community that I felt from my friends and family when I made my own personal commitment. That is what the case was about to me."

Taylor said she feels honored to work for the greater good of the LGBT community, but also recognizes the seriousness of this obligation. When things work out, as it did in Iowa, she feels an overwhelming sense of joy and relief. But there is that constant fear of what happens when her team is not successful at the end of the day.

"You feel as if you have these people's future in your hands a bit," she said. "They've entrusted you with their dreams. It is an honor and a privilege, but it is also something that you have to take very seriously. I am afraid that if we lose, we lose not just for our clients, who we've come to know and care deeply about, but we've lost for an entire community."

In recent years, Lambda Legal has won far more cases then they have lost. From its national headquarters in New York to the four regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, Lambda Legal fights for the creation of law through high-impact litigation, education and public-policy work.

"I am on a team of people working together," said Taylor. "So you always feel as if your are in a supportive environment with wonderful colleagues working towards the same end. It is a pleasure to have that kind of support. I am proud to be a part of moving history along. I firmly believe that marriage equality is inevitable. It is going to happen. It is going to happen everywhere in this country, it is only a matter of time. In many ways it is happening much sooner than we have expected. So I feel as though I am helping jog things along, to accelerate the process and that really feels good."

Camilla Taylor will be the featured speaker at Lambda Legal's annual Bon Foster civil-rights celebration, "Winning the Case for a More Perfect Union," Thursday, April 23, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, 5:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $150 each; contact Jeff Souva at jsouva@lambdalegal.org or 312-663-4413, or purchase tickets at www.lambdalegal.org/bonfoster.


This article shared 2490 times since Wed Apr 15, 2009
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