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Excitement building at the possibilities for the Brooklyn Bar’s LGBTQ Committee

November 9, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Dewey Golkin, Josh Levin, Christina Golkin, Tom Burrows and Hon. Debra Silber each had a hand in starting the Brooklyn Bar Association’s LGBTQ Committee. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese.
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It was just the first event the Brooklyn Bar Association’s LGBTQ Committee hosted, but it managed to pack the upstairs area of the Excelsior in Park Slope Thursday night, with many prospective members in attendance.

“This event was really just to get our name out there to let the other bar associations know that we’re here and ready to support each other,” said Christina Golkin, chair of the committee. “The response we’ve gotten so far has been amazing.

“I think sometimes we do things and you think you are just doing a little thing and it explodes,” Golkin continued. “Sometimes you do a thing that resonates with people and the reaction is huge. Now I’m responsible for carrying it over and [making] sure it works and that it’s good.”

Justice Debra Silber, who is the only openly gay judge in the Kings County Supreme Court, and Tom Burrows of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, were on hand and were both thrilled to see Golkin and fellow attorney Josh Levin get the LGBTQ Committee off the ground. The hope is that this committee will help to promote more LGBTQ judges while also increasing awareness of the issues the community faces.

“Manhattan has about a dozen gay judges and a lot of them are from Brooklyn, but decided that to run they had to move to Manhattan,” Silber said. “A bar association can take positions on legislation, and the Brooklyn Bar never had an LGBT Committee, so they’ve never taken positions except if it was the Civil Rights Committee.

“I’m hoping that the committee will make recommendations to the Brooklyn Bar, who will take a position, and that will be a part of the stuff that goes to the Legislature, that it’s included in the bill jacket and the legislative history,” Silber continued. “It’s important, very important.”

Burrows explained that this committee will also help to produce future LGBTQ judges, as he feels that there are far too few in Brooklyn. He even thinks that Golkin has the potential once she is eligible in five years.

“Debra is our first out, elected supreme,” Burrows said. “It’s been a long struggle and it shouldn’t be a struggle because of the amount of LGBT people in Brooklyn. The county under Frank Seddio has been much more supportive. Frank has made sure that we have an LGBT person on the judicial screening committee so that judges are aware of and concerned about LGBT issues.

“This is very exciting that there is an LGBT Committee at the Brooklyn Bar Association and that there are young people committed to this,” Burrows added.

The committee plans on hosting more networking events like Thursday’s. It is also planning on hosting a Continuing Legal Education seminar at the bar association in the spring. The seminar is still in the “pre-planning” stages at this point, but it hopes to host NYC Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis this spring.

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