The LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles (“LGBT Bar LA”), was founded in 1979 under the original designation, Lawyers for Human Rights. In April 1979, LGBT Bar LA held its first meeting at The Old Spaghetti Factory on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The organization was formed in the aftermath of a bitter battle over Proposition 6, a ballot measure backed by State Senator John Briggs seeking to ban homosexuals from the profession of teaching in California.
The idea for a gay lawyers group first occurred to Susan McGrievy as a means to provide assistance in doing gay rights litigation while she was working at The Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. Ray Hatler, who did much of the initial organizing and served as the group’s first president, was inspired by a gay law student group that had been formed by Thomas F. Coleman and Jerold A. Krieger (who later became a Superior Court Judge and was LGBT Bar LA's second President).
LGBT Bar LA’s original name was selected in deference to social pressures of the day and professional concerns of some of its members. Many gay and lesbian attorneys were confronted with blatant discrimination based on their sexual orientation, so it made sense that the association chose a name that suited the group's goals but did not include the words gay or lesbian.
In the 1990s, the association adopted the acronym name LHR: The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association as a transition from the historic title to a more out-of-the-closet name that would more adequately express the ongoing struggle for equality and celebrate the hard-fought freedoms that our community was beginning to enjoy.
On October 19, 2002, at its Twenty-First Annual Dinner LHR: The Lesbian and Gay Bar Association announced that it had adopted a new name: The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, which would also become known by a more pride-filled acronym tag LGLA. In November 2015, the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles once again changed its name, to the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, a change that was a long time coming, and made far more easily than the earlier name change. The new name, approved with overwhelming support from the Board of Governors and the membership, reflects the association’s commitment to ensuring that it represents, welcomes, and supports trans and bisexual attorneys of our community. It also represents a shift in understanding of LGBT Bar LA's role as a formal bar association in the greater Los Angeles legal community.
LGBT Bar LA has been an affiliate of the Los Angeles County Bar Association since the mid-1980s and has taken positions on a number of bar-related issues, in addition to representing our community at local and State Bar Functions. LGBT Bar LA is also an affiliate of the National LGBT Bar Association, which itself is an affiliate of the American Bar Association.
Today, LGBT Bar LA continues its mission to advocate for the concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender lawyers.