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State Bar Urges Firms to Fight Discrimination Against Gays

November 05, 1996| From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The State Bar of California is urging law firms to offer health benefits to same-sex couples and to take other steps against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"This is the first state bar association that's taken a step like this," Los Angeles attorney Wayne Braveman, chairman of the bar's Committee on Sexual Orientation Discrimination, said last week.

A state law that took effect in 1993 prohibits employment discrimination against homosexuals. The bar adopted a rule in 1994 that subjects lawyers and firms to potential disciplinary action for discriminating on the base of race, sex, sexual orientation or several other categories in hiring employees and selecting clients.

The bar's Board of Governors decided in August that further steps were needed after getting a report from Braveman's committee on the climate for homosexuals in the legal community.

The report relied heavily on a 1994 study by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. that found instances of discrimination in hiring, workplace environment, assignments, evaluation, pay and promotion.

Despite the 1993 ban on employment discrimination, one unnamed legal employer was quoted in the Los Angeles survey as saying: "We are not interested in lawyers with this type of disability."

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