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As Ted Olson presented legal arguments in San Francisco against the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, one of his partners at Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was breaking ground in a different way — by establishing Orange County’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bar association. The Orange County Lavender Bar Association was launched during a gathering on the rooftop of Gibson Dunn’s Irvine, Calif., office. James Moloney, the Gibson Dunn partner who helped found the organization, is co-chairman of the securities regulation and corporate governance practice group. The timing was no accident. Moloney, who is forming the group pro bono along with associate Andreas Meyer, spoke with The National Law Journal last week about how the same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, prompted him to begin discussions six months ago about forming an LGBT bar association in his community. Last year’s opening of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, whose founding dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, is a noted liberal scholar, signaled a shift in traditionally conservative Orange County that called for better representation of the LGBT community, Moloney said. Q: How did you first get involved in this group? A: This particular group came about through a variety of contacts we had in the legal community there. Some are partners at law firms, some are business and community leaders and some of them came to us from the UCI law school. There are some folks over there — a whole bumper crop of law students, some of whom would fit into this constituency — for which they don’t have a bar association. So, we agreed to take this on. It really is a coalition of different individuals in the community who came together and said, ‘This is something we ought to have in Orange County’ — for one reason, so we don’t have to drive all the way up to L.A.” Q: It’s interesting that Olson, a partner in Gibson Dunn’s Washington, D.C., office who represented George W. Bush in the court challenge following the 2000 election, is handling the Prop. 8 case along with Los Angeles partner Ted Boutrous — and you’re forming this group in Orange County. Why is the firm getting involved in the LGBT community? A: When you step back and think about it, you need a bar association that brings those members of that community together to speak and work together in order to flesh out those arguments and ensure the rights of that group are protected. The firm and the clients we’re representing are getting increasingly diverse. One year Ted and Ted are doing the Bush v. Gore thing, and a couple of years later they’re doing the Prop 8. thing. That shows we’re not as old school as some people might think we are. Q: What kind of launch party are you having? A: On our rooftop event we’re going to have a live video telecast once the oral arguments are over. We’ll hear first-hand how the case is progressing. We’ve sent out invitations to clients and other people in the community who might be interested. Regardless of what side you are on the issue, you might be interested in knowing how the arguments are going in the proceeding in San Francisco. We’ll have a big screen TV up there, wine, cheese and crackers, and an announcement of where we are in the formation of the OCLBA. Q: Orange County voters backed Prop 8. in the 2008 election. Don’t you face challenges forming an LGBT group there? A: The concept of having a gay and lesbian bar association is not new. What’s happening here is you’re talking about Orange County, which is a relatively new community, only about 40 years old, and probably known for being somewhat conservative. I think you have to start somewhere. I think that you need to start with the lawyers in the community — and not just the practicing lawyers, but the law students. It’s a relatively new and developing county, which, yes, has been traditionally known for more conservative views or viewpoints, but that doesn’t change the fact there is a diverse and vibrant culture and community here in Orange County. I can tell you from living here the last 10 years it’s certainly not as conservative or Republican as most would paint it to be outside the county. Q: Besides issues like Prop. 8, what other legal concerns might the Orange County Lavender Bar Association address? A: It’s the needs of the community of this group of individuals. It’s not limited to legal topics in the national public eye. They have everyday legal needs that perhaps are not being met or adequately addressed by the bar in the county as it currently stands. As lawyers, we sometimes assume everybody knows what the law is. But the reality is, your average guy on the street has no idea what the law is. Maybe you know California doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but how does this work for purposes of deductions when I’m filling out my IRS tax return if we have a child we’ve adopted? There are a lot of non-marital but family and domestic issues that come up and have many implications under the law, and where can these individuals go? Most people aren’t going to go out and hire a lawyer to help them navigate the myriad of laws that potentially implicate their daily lives on issues like this. It’s a method, a medium, by which the individuals who are members of this community can give back to the greater and broader community of individuals who have similar legal issues and concerns.

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