In the city known for the quality of its lawyers for over 250 years, and in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we celebrate the contributions of outstanding Philadelphia LGBTQ lawyers, including Hon. Deborah Batts, Cheryl Ingram and David Rosenblum. Their contributions on both the local and national stages helped break barriers for equality and add to the legal prominence of the city of Philadelphia.
We recognize that this list is incomplete and that many in the LGBTQ community are still fearful of bias and discrimination, and they choose not to identify themselves publicly. We hope this list will continue to grow as we continue our fight for diversity and inclusion.
We invite you to learn more about each of these legal giants below.
Hon. Deborah Batts (1947 – 2020)
Deborah Batts was born in Philadelphia in 1947. She attended the Philadelphia High School For Girls, Radcliffe College in Massachusetts, and Harvard Law School. She clerked in U.S. District Court and worked as a litigator before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1979. When she joined Fordham University as a professor in 1984, she became the first African-American faculty member. She was also a member of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Of New York, and the Sex and Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, where she worked on family law issues. President Clinton appointed Batts to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1994, making her the first lesbian to serve as a federal judge. She served as the only openly LGBTQ federal judge until 2011. Read more about this legal giant.
Cheryl Ingram (1957 – 2002)
Cheryl Ingram was Director of Policy Administration for the Philadelphia Bar Association. She also served on the board of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP), which later became the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association, including a term as its Treasurer. Ingram successfully advocated for GALLOP’s evolution into an effective bar association by assisting in the creation of a website, endorsing of bar candidates and advocating for more visibility and involvement in the greater Philadelphia legal community. Ingram advocated to both the American and the Pennsylvania Bar Associations to be inclusive of the LGBTQ community and encouraged the Philadelphia Bar Association to endorse a number of pro-LGBTQ resolutions. She was an impetus in the creation of the Committee on the Legal Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men at the Philadelphia Bar Association. She also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Advocate for Justice Award, which recognizes important contributions from allies outside the LGBTQ legal community. Read more about this legal giant.
David Rosenblum (1966 – 2014)
David Rosenblum served as the director of Mazzoni Center’s legal-services department and was also an adjunct professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law in its sexual orientation and gender-identity law program. Rosenblum co-founded and served as co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee on the Legal Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men. He sat on the board of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP), now known as the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association, from 1994-2002, chairing the board from 1995-1998. He chaired the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law conference when it was in Philadelphia in 2002 and was a co-founder of its career fair. Read more about this legal giant.
Authors Paige Willan and Michael Coran are members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Klehr Harrison, which strives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion through education in all forms from educating our own lawyers and clients, hiring and mentoring minority lawyers and providing tools to educate students of all ages.