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WNE Center for Social Justice to Present Director of ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice and Springfield Public Forum will present an interview with Ria Tabacco Mar, director of ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. as part of the Center for Social Justice’s Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series, which provides a venue for conversations about legal issues significant to the LGBTQ+ community.

The virtual event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration for this event is required by clicking here.

Mar oversees the ACLU’s women’s-rights litigation. Previously, she was a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, where she fought gender stereotypes, sex segregation, and attempts to use religion to discriminate in schools, at work, and in public places.

She will be joined by WNE School of Law Professor Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who will moderate a Q&A-style event.

“We are incredibly lucky to welcome Ria Tabacco Mar as the center’s Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ speaker this year,” center Director Ariel Clemmer said. “She is a passionate advocate for change working on today’s cutting-edge social-justice issues.”

Mar was part of the ACLU’s litigation team representing Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, whose cases were decided as part of the recent Supreme Court ruling recognizing that federal employment-law protections apply to LGBTQ people. She also led the ACLU’s team in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case in which a same-sex couple was refused a wedding cake because they are gay.

Mar is a frequent commentator on gender-justice issues, appearing on television programs including All In with Chris Hayes, PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, and PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover, and has authored opinion pieces for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets. She has been recognized on the Root 100, an annual list of the most influential African-Americans ages 25 to 45, and as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Assoc. She graduated from New York University School of Law and Harvard College.

The Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series provides a venue for conversations about legal issues important to the LGBTQ+ community by bringing prominent leaders, speakers, and advocates to engage with the Western New England University School of Law Community. The mission of this series is to draw awareness to emerging trends in LGBTQ+ law and continuing social-justice concerns that might affect LGBTQ+ clients or practitioners. Lectures will be held during the lunch hour and are open to students, alumni, the university community, and the general public.

This series is made possible by a donation from WNE School of Law alumna Elena Gervino; her wife, Kathleen Ward; and their two daughters.

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