Dear NAPABA Community,
With 50 days remaining before the start of the 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, I wish to update you on NAPABA’s work in Indiana along with our advocacy efforts broadly.
In April 2023, we announced our Indiana Advocacy Action Plan following the decision from the Board of Governors to remain in Indianapolis for the 2023 NAPABA Convention. The Plan’s four-prong strategy aimed to meaningfully engage community stakeholders in Indiana and advance the dignity and interests of the LGBTQ+ and AANHPI communities in the time leading up to and beyond the Convention. Since then, I can report to you on the following actions:
- Immediate Investment. NAPABA and Indiana Legal Services, Inc. (ILS), announced a partnership to deliver direct legal support to LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities in Indiana. The partnership will fund law student interns at ILS starting this fall for the 2023-2024 academic year. The legal internships will be housed within the ILS LGBTQ+ Project and Immigrants’ and Language Rights Center. Financial support for these legal internships was generously provided by the NAPABA Law Foundation’s Underserved Communities Fellowship.
- Lasting Impact. Starting this October, NAPABA–in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Indiana, Alliance for Justice, and Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP–will be convening a wide array of community leaders in Indianapolis for our multi-part civic engagement series entitled, “Joining Forces, Building Community and Empowerment.” The workshop is designed for Indiana leaders to build organizational, operational, and advocacy skills in their efforts to advocate and better serve their communities. NAPABA will host additional workshops in the months ahead, including another convening of community leaders on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at the Convention, and culminate in a day of advocacy activities at the Indiana Statehouse in 2024.
- Showcasing Our Values. The 2023 NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis is centered on uplifting NAPABA’s values and our community. Our Friday Plenary Luncheon program will focus on “Gender Equality and the Rights of Transgender Athletes,” featuring Justice Sabrina McKenna of the Supreme Court of Hawai`i as the moderator. At our Gala program on Saturday, the keynote speaker will be attorney and civil rights activist Mia Yamamoto, a prominent leader and advocate for human rights and for the rights of the LGBTQ+ and AANHPI communities. During the Convention’s substantive program, we will highlight issues such as AANHPIs and the fight for marriage equality, a reflection on the civil rights movement, how our community can advance the cause for justice, #WhyWomenLeave, and more.
- Beyond Indiana. Though we are focused on Indiana, NAPABA remains at the forefront in our core advocacy work across the nation.
- We continue to oppose vigorously alien land laws that would strip the rights of AANHPIs to pursue a livelihood and fair housing. NAPABA and our affiliates are engaged with state and federal policymakers to oppose such laws along with grassroots community leaders and the press. Along with our coalition partners, NAPABA has cautioned Congress to be mindful of its rhetoric and “to consider the impact that proposed legislation could have on AANHPI communities, and to work with AANHPI groups to find ways to address national security concerns while creating an environment that welcomes people who are committed to the success and safety of our country.” We have raised the alarm over a recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that, if enacted, would impose restrictions on individuals from certain countries like China to purchase agricultural land. In court, we are supporting, as amicus curiae, litigation challenging Florida’s discriminatory statute.
- In the aftermath of U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. UNC/Harvard, NAPABA has not only presented educational programs to our members about the ruling, but also engaged with partners to explore best avenues to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the profession.
- NAPABA has stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. For example, in the face of federal legislation that targeted the transgender community, NAPABA opposed a bill that would ban transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in school sporting activities that align with their gender identities. Such harmful and discriminatory policies are wholly inconsistent with NAPABA values. Similarly, NAPABA denounced a misguided decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative LLC v. Aubrey Elenis, which held that a website design business–notwithstanding state anti-discrimination laws–may refuse to deliver services to same-sex couples. We called on Congress again to pass the Equality Act, which would amend federal law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
- NAPABA endorsed the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act of 2023, a bill that would deliver relief to Southeast Asian American refugees and create a pathway for the return of nearly 2,000 refugees to the United States who have already been removed to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
- Recently, in another step toward equity, NAPABA endorsed California Senate Bill 403, which would add caste as a protected characteristic under California’s civil rights laws, and called for a ban on caste discrimination throughout the nation.
|This is only a snapshot of our efforts. Undoubtedly, we are making progress, but we are nowhere near done. As California just recognized when it lifted the ban on publicly funded travel to other states with objectionable laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community, NAPABA believes in the importance and the power of showing up. Our work is only possible because of the strength, energy, and passion of our members, our committees, our affiliates, and our sponsors. So many of you step up each and every day to better our community, often in the shadows of the public eye, with the only hope that the next generation will enjoy the gains that we endeavor to make today. We are incredibly grateful.|
I look forward to seeing all of you in Indianapolis.