DETROIT — Gay rights advocate Chai Feldblum, the first openly lesbian commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will deliver the 28th annual I. Goodman Cohen Lecture in Trial Advocacy at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at Wayne State University Law School.
“She has been a strong and effective advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights,” said Wayne Law Distinguished Professor Robert Sedler, event organizer of the Cohen Lecture Series. “Disability rights and LGBT rights are among the major areas of civil rights litigation today.”
The lecture Achieving Social Change: Lessons from Disability and LGBT Rights will take place in the Law School’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium, 471 W. Palmer St., and will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Feldblum was nominated to the EEOC, which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, by President Barack Obama in 2009 for a term ending in July 2013. Prior to her appointment, she was a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. She founded the Law Center’s Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, a program designed to train students to become legislative lawyers. As co-director of Workplace Flexibility 2010, Feldblum has worked to advanced flexibility in the workplace in a manner that works for employees and employers.
She previously was legislative counsel to the AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she developed legislation, analyzed policy on various AIDS-related issues, and played a leading role in drafting the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Later, as a law professor, she was instrumental helping in the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
She also is an expert on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. A graduate of Barnard College, Feldblum received her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
“I do not think it is possible to grow up as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and not be committed to principles of pluralism and tolerance,” Feldblum said when she was sworn in as an EEOC commissioner. “My entire professional life has been focused on civil rights and social welfare rights. In my legal work and in my scholarship, I have sought to advance the civil rights of all Americans, no matter their race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.”