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AG Lynch Underscores Support For Transgender Equality

This week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch emphasized the comments she made earlier this month supporting the rights of transgender individuals.


Attorney General Lynch made an appearance at the Women's Bar Association and WBA Foundation Annual Dinner this week, where she received the Janet Reno Torchbearer Award.

Reno's "passionate and principled dedication to justice continues to shine through" in the DOJ's work, Lynch said. For instance, through Justice's work to uphold civil rights laws, protect women, defend voting rights, and ensure "that no American faces discrimination, intimidation or violence because of what we look like, where we are from, how we worship, whom we love—or even something as profoundly personal and simple as which restroom we use." It received a round of applause. 

Early in Janet Reno's career, she was told "ladies don't become lawyers," said Lynch. (Thankfully, Reno didn't listen.) When Reno started her tenure as the first female attorney general, Loretta Lynch was an AUSA in the Eastern District of NY. Lynch recalled Reno saying during a Congressional investigation into Waco, "I don't do spin," and said that "because of her example, neither do I."
AG Lynch visited Reno earlier this year, and said that the former AG, despite health challenges, only wanted to discuss the work of the Department of Justice.

We snapped AG Lynch sitting at the dais in the beautiful National Building Museum. The WBA's Torchbearer Award isn't given annually, but is awarded to women who've made exceptional achievements and blazed the trail for other women to follow. The eight past Torchbearer honorees—since the award was first given to Reno in '96—include Sheila Bair, Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (right), spoke with the evening's other honoree, Lt. Gen. Flora Darpino (center), and incoming WBA president and White & Case counsel Sonia Murphy. LTG Darpino received the 2016 Woman of the Year Award.

LTG Darpino is the first female Judge Advocate General of the US Army since George Washington first appointed someone to that position in 1775. As the Judge Advocate General, LTG Darpino is the top legal adviser to the Secretary of the Army and directs more than 10,000 lawyers in the US and abroad. Her service has included two combat deployments in Iraq

The JAG Corps was just 8% female when she entered, says LTG Darpino; now it's about 30% female. (This year, she celebrates both her 30th year in the Army and 30 years of marriage to her college sweetheart.)

On her first assignment, her boss said, "I told them not to send me a woman, but they sent you anyway." LTG Darpino used that as motivation, and told herself that since "they" had sent her anyway, she would prove "them" right and her boss wrong. He was in the minority, she said, and most in the Army judged her on her merits, not her gender. LTG Darpino said she feels lucky to have joined the "ultimate team": the US Army.


Next year, the WBA celebrates its 100th anniversary. Attorney General Lynch remarked that founding a bar association for women in 1917, when the country was still three years from universal suffrage for women, was "a tremendous act of faith in the ultimate progression of our times. It was an act of faith in the law. It was ultimately an act of faith in the women who picked up the legal banner, then and to come." The organization was founded by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett at a time when the Bar Association of DC didn't admit women. (The two women also founded American University's law school.)

We snapped DC Bar Foundation executive director Kirra Jarratt with Norma Hutcheson. Kirra, a WBAF Board Member and WBAF past president, says that the WBA has been preparing for the centennial in part by cataloging its oral history and photographs and documents from its past 100 years.


At the cocktail reception before dinner, we spotted some dedicated WBA and WBAF members: WBA and WBAF past president and Livingston founding principal Lucy Thomson, WBA board member and Price Benowitz partner Kerri Castellini, and WBAF VP, WBA past president, and Crowell & Moring partner Monica Parham.


Dinner co-chairs Jennifer Mika of the DC Department on Disability Services and Janelle Gordon of US Customs and Border Protection.

The hundreds of guests enjoyed a dinner of baby spinach and blackberry salad, Frenched chicken breast and summer succotash, and chocolate torte.

Past WBA dinners have honored former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Smith & Co's Judy Smith (the inspiration behind the Olivia Pope character on Scandal), and Justice Elena Kagan.