I recently attended the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Family Law Institute. The Family Law Institute is a joint project of the National LGBT Bar Association and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. It is held every year in conjunction with the National LGBT Bar Annual Career Fair and Conference, which occurs in a different city each year. This past year it was in Hollywood, California. Attendees of the Family Law Institute are experienced LGBT family law attorneys from throughout the United States and abroad. Many of the attendees are from states where marriage between persons of the same sex is legal or from states with Civil Unions or Domestic Partnership registration for same sex couples. Although the laws in these states are not directly applicable to the practice of family law in Florida, it is interesting to hear how the change in the law has affected the practice of family law in those states where relationships between persons of the same sex are legally recognized. It is also helpful for me to be familiar with the laws in those states when advising my LGBT clients who are moving to or from one of those states.
This year's keynote speaker talked about the challenges faced by elderly LGBT people. LGBT people sometimes face discrimination, harassment and even physical violence at the hands of their caretakers in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. This causes these older LGBT people to return to the closet they had left decades before. Older LGBT people are also sometimes separated from their friends when they become dependent on family members who may not understand or approve of their sexual orientation or transgender status causing them to become isolated and depressed. This is a troubling reality that must be addressed by those of us who are concerned with the needs of the elderly.
Even though the programming at the Family Law Institute is not always directly applicable to my clients, it enhances my ability to represent my clients now and in the future.