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HIV/AIDS and the Gay Community: A (Belated) Report from Lavender Law


Scott-SchoettesAt the end of August, I had the honor of attending and speaking on a panel at the annual conference of the LGBT Bar Association. The conference, quaintly called "Lavender Law," is a well-attended event, bringing together students, practitioners, scholars and many people like you interested in legal issues facing the LGBT community.

This year's conference was pretty special. James Esseks, LGBT Project Director at the ACLU and one of Edie Windsor's attorneys, received an honor. That alone is notable and fantastic. James, a friend, a man I admire and great lawyer, deserves accolades for his great success. But, with all due respect to James, he wasn't the star of the show.

That honor goes to Scott Schoettes, the HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal (right).

Scott spoke during a prime session on the second day of the conference; everyone was there. What his panel was about is really irrelevant. Scott took the opportunity to ably and dramatically issue a call for the LGBT community to once again come together to fight the spread of HIV, the stigmatization associated with criminalizing HIV and other HIV-related issues that may not solely touch the gay community, but still plague our friends, neighbors and kinsmen. His comments, available in full at Lambda's website, lamented the fact that too many of us are willing to forget about HIV to win more pressing battles. He expressed legitimate frustration that the very coalition charged with raising LGBT legal and social issues -- the National LGBT Bar Association -- rejected every HIV-related panel proposed to it for this year's Lavender Law. He charged us to never forget the most vulnerable among us because they need our help the most.

Scott spoke truth to power and for that he deserves more than an award; he deserves our respect.

Follow me AFTER THE JUMP to learn more about Scott's speech and how you can get involved.


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