Friday, November 11, 2005

Noted lawyer & Legal Director of National Center for Lesbian Rights to speak at next week's Triad Business & Professional Guild meeting

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From the Greensboro News & Record: Noted lawyer to address state of gay rights Wednesday, November 9, 2005 By Tom Steadman Staff Writer GREENSBORO -- Growing up in rural east Texas, Shannon Minter learned firsthand about the difficulties of living with a "different" sexual orientation. As a teenager in a lesbian relationship, Minter had his tires slashed; his girlfriend had a rock tossed through her living room window. Even his parents were hostile. "It was very traumatizing,'' said Minter. "I was very afraid they would put me in some sort of psychiatric treatment.'' Minter weathered that storm, finished high school and graduated from the University of Texas and eventually law school at Cornell. Along the way, he determined that he was transgender rather than lesbian and underwent sexual reassignment surgery. "I'm so much more comfortable with myself,'' said Minter, now 44 and serving as legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. He will come to Greensboro next week to tell his story and talk about the future of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights at the Nov. 17 meeting of the Triad Business and Professional Guild. The event is being co-hosted by that group and the Triad Equity Alliance. "We're at a very crucial tipping point,'' Minter said in a telephone interview with the News & Record. "We're on the verge of finally winning acceptance and understanding from most of the public in most states.'' Minter, now married with a 19-year-old daughter and finally reconciled with his parents after years of estrangement, has handled his share of high-profile cases. In 2001, he represented Sharon Smith in a Sharon Smith in a successful effort to file a wrongful death suit after her lesbian partner, Diane Whipple, was mauled to death by a neighbor's pit bull. Previously only married survivors could file such suits. Currently, he is serving as lead attorney in a gay marriage case going through the California court system. He has handled cases all over the country, including a successful fight in North Carolina to secure the right of a gay couple to adopt. Earlier this year, Minter was recognized for his labors with a $100,000 Ford Foundation award. He was one of 17 people nationally picked to receive the Leadership for a Changing World award, a Ford grant administered through the Washington, D.C.-based Advocacy Institute. One of the same grants went to a Greensboro couple, the Rev. Nelson Johnson and his wife, Joyce, who founded the nonprofit Beloved Community Center here. "North Carolina is a pivotal state,'' said Minter. "We can't just win victories in Massachusetts and California. We have to show we can also reach people in more conservative states.'' Minter praised the efforts of groups such as the Triad Equity Alliance, which locally champions the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Last month, the alliance ran radio, newspaper and billboard campaigns in honor of National Coming Out Day. "This is how we win; not by being confrontational but by showing people we want to contribute to the community,'' Minter said. "Sometimes litigation is necessary but it should be the last resort.'' Original Source: click here For more information about the event, please visit