Until recently, in states with anti-sodomy laws such as Virginia, "firms said that they would not hire a gay lawyer," says Kemnitz. But in the wake of the Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003, which struck down the state's anti-sodomy law, things changed. There are now 24 state and regional bar associations for lesbian, gay and transgender lawyers around the country, including in states such as Texas, Wyoming and Missouri.
Yet sexual orientation discrimination persists at many law firms. Eighty-four percent of gay, lesbian and transgender attorneys in Minnesota believe that "bias was a major/moderate problem" at their firms, and 21 percent reported being denied "employment, equal pay, benefits, promotion, etc., due to their sexual orientation," according to a 2006 survey by the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association.
"All the studies indicate a great deal of bias still in the profession," says Kemnitz. "We have to realize just how recent it's been that things have started to change. Now is the time for the legal profession to follow the example of business and improve our commitment to diversity."