LGBT legal group celebrates milestone
by Angela Thomas
Dec 19, 2013 | 610 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia celebrated its 25th anniversary this week.

GALLOP was founded in 1986 as Philadelphia Attorneys for Human Rights. The organization is comprised of LGBT legal professionals who serve the Philadelphia metropolitan area and who advocate for civil and human rights, particularly regarding LGBT issues.

The organization celebrated its milestone with a “Gay Back in the Day” party Dec. 18.

GALLOP president Angela Giampolo said the group was so clandestine at the time it was founded that membership was hard to solicit.

But, with a more thriving and visible LGBT community in the city, GALLOP now boasts more than 350 members.

Giampolo, who has been involved with GALLOP since she was in law school, said the organization looks to involve people of all interests and backgrounds.

“We reach out to LGBT lawyers who are established and may be looking to socialize with other LGBT attorneys. We reach out to young lawyers who may be looking to network with said more-established lawyers. We have a niche in reaching out to and involving the local LGBT law students. And we invite and welcome professionals in all industries who may want to get to know the LGBT lawyers in our community,” Giampolo said.

Community support for the organization and its programs has evolved throughout the years, in large part to the number of LGBT organizations that have developed.

Initially, GALLOP operated a referral system, but once Mazzoni Center established its legal department, that work became less needed. The Philadelphia Bar Association, Giampolo noted, also now has its own LGBT Committee, which handles a wealth of advocacy work.

“GALLOP’s mission has been evolving since its creation and after 25 years, we always find a niche and a need within the LGBT legal community that needs support,” Giampolo said.

The organization hosts many programs and social events to engage both membership and the community, such as a monthly happy hour/networking event at Tabu, as well as annual fundraising events and meetings. GALLOP has also started to provide continuing legal-education courses specific to LGBT issues for lawyers, and dinners to highlight legal issues impacting the LGBT community at local LGBT-owned restaurants.

Giampolo said GALLOP members have participated in and joined amicus curiae briefs for such historic cases as Lawrence vs. Texas and the Proposition 8 case heard by the United States Supreme Court.

Among GALLOP’s accomplishments, Giampolo said, is the sense of safety and support it provides for lawyers.

“I’ll never forget one man who attended our monthly happy hour for five minutes. He came in and since I hadn’t seen him before, I walked up and introduced myself. He didn’t want to give me his name because he wasn’t out in the large law firm he has worked at for 22 years. He asked, if it was OK with me, could he just stand back and be in the space around all the LGBT attorneys. ‘It will be the best five minutes of my month,’ he said.”

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