The Good LGBT Lawyers Do

I could do an editorial about lawyers that starts off with a joke about how lawyers are sharks, or 330 of them at the bottom of the ocean are a good start. Attorneys make good jokes, and some of them are.

The truth is the greater Fort Lauderdale legal community has been blessed with a wealth of talented attorneys who give much of themselves to help others. They are altruistically motivated, spiritually grounded, and community minded.

It is preposterous that Lambda Legal can hold ceremonies year after year and not honor Dean Trantalis, who has been fighting for civil rights in Broward for 30 years, and every undertaking has been a pro bono effort for the equality of the LGBT community. Aside from his recent election to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, Dean presently serves on the Board of Directors of Broward House.

Law firms that have advertised in our paper have sustained this newspaper from its outset. They are not doing it solely because of charity, but because they get bang for their buck.

The Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Network holding its second annual fundraiser on April 21 will be donating their proceeds to Gilda’s Club, a cancer support organization dear to my heart and ever so helpful to me when I endured a year of chemotherapy in 2000 while surviving non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

A second beneficiary of their beneficence will be SunServe Counseling, where local and respected attorneys, J. Coleman Prewitt and Gregory Kabel serve on their Board of Directors as President and Secretary, respectively.

A nationally recognized expert in consumer law and foreclosure defense, George Castrataro, who was once an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Broward County, serves on the board of directors of Care Resources, a premiere HIV services organization.

Forget for a moment that Ken Keechl is a past mayor of Broward County.  That you may know. Were you aware that he previously served on the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Committee of the Florida Bar, which focused on civil rights issues, including those facing minorities, the elderly, and the disabled? He also was a volunteer attorney for Broward Lawyers Care, representing pro bono clients who could not afford legal counsel.

Lea Krauss is not only the co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Lawyers Network, but she has worked with the Pride Center at Equality Park and serves as a certified family mediator, and helped emerging law students deal with LGBT issues under a project entitled Lambda United.

Another member of the lawyer’s network includes Arthur Smith, one of the eldest and most esteemed LGBT attorneys in Broward County. Now of counsel to the law firm of George Castrataro, Smith has seeded and funded so many causes over four decades, from the Community Foundation of Broward to the Pride Center, he is worthy of a story in his own right.

If you run into Miriam Richter at a GLLN function, you know she is a ‘go to’ person for all matters related to intellectual property, from domain names to copyright issues. What you might not know is that Miriam Richter represents the Harvey Milk Foundation on all their education initiatives and protecting their rights on issues related to personality rights and trademarks. For two decades, Miriam has also been a leader in the field of primary and secondary education, establishing herself as a known authority on inclusiveness in both curriculum and classroom.

I am already at 650 words, and my editor in chief won’t let me go much further, because our paper is limited in real estate and tight in space. To my many friends in the lawyer’s network, please do not feel slighted if I left your name out. There are so many of you who have given so much to so many. Each week, I say the same thing again and again. The purpose of SFGN is to illuminate the lives and good deeds of a community that has much reason to be proud of its works and deeds.  Life is all about what we can do for each other.

Today, many of us in the local LGBT community are hoping our friend Cal Steinmetz gets better, so he can take the field again with the local softball league he donates so much of his time to. We are given an unwritten amount of time to fill our slate, and do what we can when we can, and where we can.

On April 21, a group of local lawyers will again do much to help people in need in its second annual fundraiser. You don’t need a degree though, to help people who are needy. You just need to put out a helping hand and have a good heart. This column salutes one legal group, but it acknowledges all of you who rides bicycles for HIV, volunteer at SAGE, or work a booth for PrideFest.

We are all partners, and sooner or later, we all come together with a common purpose. Norm Kent

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