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Fighting for Civil Marriage Equality in Chile Arent Fox has played a significant role in marriage equality litigation in the last several years with key victories in 2016 in Chile and Colombia. After Chilean courts refused to permit samesex couples to marry civilly or have their valid foreign legal marriages recognized, Partner Hunter T. Carter and clients MOVILH, a human rights advocacy organization, with their Chilean counsel sued Chile before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2012, the preliminary step in bringing a case before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The team has filed similar complaints against Mexico and seeks eventually to have a ruling from the Inter-American Court enforcing equal protection of civil marriage laws for same sex couples. Chile and most countries in the Americas are bound by its decisions by treaty. The team has also made dedicated efforts in Colombia before its Constitutional Court, having written and filed an amicus brief on marriage equality in the US and world-wide on behalf of the New York City Bar Association, and coordinated the filing of numerous amicus briefs by professional, scientific, and business organizations. In 2016, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples. Shortly afterward, Hunter and his husband Cesar, born in Colombia, were the first foreign-married same-sex couple to have their marriage registered by the Colombian Civil Registry, in a ceremony conducted at the consulate in New York. Soon thereafter, culminating 18 months of negotiations with the Chilean government, Hunter and the team signed a binding agreement before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights acknowledging that Chile had violated the human rights of the same-sex couples and of the LGBT community more generally, and binding Chile to adopt a number of reforms, including marriage equality legislation. Chile’s President and Minister of Government have publicly hailed the agreement, which is the first time in history that a national government has recognized that international human rights law protections require the enactment of civil marriage equality.

The agreement represents a significant advancement in not only Chile, but in all of Latin America. However, it has yet to be implemented due to political problems with alleged corruption and illegal campaign financing. Public pressure continues to mount as polls in Chile overwhelmingly support marriage equality, at levels above 60 percent, a significant change from the level (24 percent) when Arent Fox filed the complaint and began a campaign of public advocacy resulting in the negotiations last year. Cases that the team continues to work on involve Mexico, Panama, and Peru.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Annual Civil Rights Training Institute Complex Litigation associate Mohammed Farooqui attended the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Annual Civil Rights Training Institute at the Airlie Conference Center in Virginia. Partner Darrell S. Gay has represented the Legal Defense Fund for nearly 30 years, ensuring that its employment practices, procedures, and manuals are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Arent Fox currently serves as its outside general counsel. Mohammed’s work for the Fund includes arguing before administrative law judges in hearings before the Unemployment Insurance Board of New York, and working alongside Darrell on discrimination lawsuits in federal court. Given the longstanding relationship between Arent Fox and the Legal Defense Fund, the leadership at the Fund thought it would be valuable to have someone from Arent Fox at the Annual Training. Attending the Training gave Mohammed the unique opportunity to learn more about the important civil rights litigation the Fund works on. The discussions at the Training were valuable, as many topics addressed issues pertinent to Arent Fox, such as how to effectively use big data and acting in compliance with laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination in housing.

Giving the Gift of a Forever Home

Arent Fox participated in the Mini Adoption Day on February 26, 2016 at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park, California. The event was spearheaded by The Alliance for Children’s Rights and finalized adoptions for 56 children that day, of which Arent Fox finalized three. Associate Annie Chang Lee, with the assistance of paralegal Carmen Dam and legal secretary Stephanie Garrett, represented three sets of parents in their adoptions of children ranging from ages two to seven. Annie represented Jessie Hanna and Nicole Robinett in their adoption of Jason (age 3); Angel and Gumercinda Martinez in their adoption of Mia (age 2); and David and Elizabeth Salais in their adoption of Denise (age 7). The Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court also hosted the 17th Annual National Adoption Day on November 18, 2016. The Los Angeles Juvenile Court, Department of Children and Family Services, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Public Counsel, along with over 150 pro bono attorneys, finalized adoptions for 234 children in foster care. The Alliance finalized 118 adoptions (78 families) and Public Counsel finalized 116 adoptions (68 families). Arent Fox finalized adoptions for three happy families: Attorney Gary D. Brophy represented Shane and Shilo Langenberg in their adoption of Andrea, age 7, and Cynthia Richardson and Rhavhn Halston-Gaillard in their adoption of Devon, age 10. Associate Donna Mo represented Louisa Major in her adoption of Isaiah, age 23 6.

The 2016 Arent Fox Pro Bono Report  
The 2016 Arent Fox Pro Bono Report  

Throughout Arent Fox's 75-year history, the firm has fought to address unequal access to legal representation through its unwavering pledge...