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April 30, 2016

Domino Effect in Long Beach Lewd Conduct Case

A judge in Long Beach, California has dismissed a lewd conduct case on the ground that the police were engaging in discriminatory enforcement of the law.  In his ruling, the judge found that by only using male decoys in such cases -- and by using suggestive gestures and conduct in this case -- the police were intentionally targeting gay men.

The foundation for the judge's ruling was based on two cases from the 1970s: Pryor v. Municipal Court and Murguia v. Municipal Court.  As a young lawyer, Thomas Coleman won the Pryor case in the California Supreme Court.  The case prohibits undercover officers from using suggestive gestures and conduct in the enforcement of the lewd conduct law.  As a law student, Coleman wrote a legal memo titled "Discriminatory Enforcement of the Law as a Defense" to lewd conduct cases.  His audit of lewd conduct cases with law students Rick Angel and Barry Copilow in 1972 was cited by the Supreme Court in Pryor when it discussed the issue of discriminatory enforcement of the law.  The audit is mentioned at pages 9 and 10 of The Domino Effect.  Click here for the e-book.

It is heartening to see that -- all these decades later -- dominoes continue to fall based on the research and advocacy of Coleman and others in the 1970s.


August 17, 2015

Coleman and Kohorn Collection is Available

One Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California has finished organizing the papers of attorneys Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn.  

Collection 2014-031 is known as the “Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn Papers.”

The Online Archive of California says: “The processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant to the One National Gay and Lesbian Archives from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. An addendum to this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.”  The collection was processed by Kyle Morgan in 2014.  The collection contains historical materials from 1932 to 2011. 

Below are some excerpts from the description of the collection found on the webite of the Online Archive of California.  The link to the portal for this collection is found at: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/c8nz8bt0/

Scope and Contents

Criminal court records, civil court records, correspondence, law review articles, clippings, reports, state bills and laws, notes, meeting minutes, grant applications, biographical information, and other professional papers of Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn documenting their work as sexual civil liberty attorneys and advocates from 1972-1991. The records document Coleman's and Kohorn's legal work, publications, participation in government and non-profit commissions and committees, and involvement in sexual civil liberty issues on behalf of the LGBT community.

Biographical / Historical

"Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn see themselves as participants in and shapers of what they call the most important constitutional movement of this century: The growth of the right to privacy and personal autonomy." -quote from "Portrait of a Sexual Civil Liberties Office," box 10, folder 21.

Thomas F. Coleman graduated from the Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles in 1973. In 1974, Coleman became publisher of the Sexual Law Reporter, a joint venture of the National Committee on Sexual Civil Liberties (NCSCL) and the American Civil Liberties Union to publish analyses on statutory and case law in the field of sexuality. Jay M. Kohorn joined the venture as associate editor in 1979. Coleman and Kohorn served as co-directors for NCSCL and continued to work on issues related to the Sexual Law Reporter through 1982.

Coleman and Kohorn were based in California, but worked nationally on legal cases that affected sexual civil liberties, whether as litigators, consultants, or advocates submitting friend-of-the-court briefs. They fought against the discriminatory use of loitering, solicitation, and lewd and lascivious conduct laws against gay and lesbian people. They fought against discrimination in policing, criminal laws, employment, military service, marriage equality, and family law. They fought the mandated closure of San Francisco's bathhouses in 1984 and California Proposition 6, The LaRouche Initiative, in 1986. They gave seminars, lectures, and special assistance on sexual civil liberty legal issues to college classes, gay and lesbian groups, service providers, special interest groups, public defenders, and prosecutors.

Coleman was director of the Commission on Personal Privacy and authored the commission’s final report (Kohorn wrote the executive summary) in 1982. Coleman and Kohorn served as consultants to the Los Angeles City Council's Task Force on Family Diversity, with Coleman authoring and Kohorn editing the final report. Coleman served as a member of the Attorney General of California's Commission on Racial, Ethnic, Religious and Minority Violence; as a member of the California Legislature's Joint Select Task Force on the Changing Family; and as chairperson of the City Attorney of Los Angeles' Consumer Task Force on Marital Status Discrimination. Kohorn was a founder of the Lambda Lawyers Roundtable, a national collection of lesbian and gay activists who sought to legalize private consensual sexual conduct. Both have published extensively and been honored for their work on behalf of sexual civil liberties and the gay and lesbian community. Coleman's book The Domino Effect details over four decades of his, and to a lesser extent Kohorn's, legal, lobbying, and special project work.

Related Materials

Extensive records documenting the work of Thomas Coleman and Jay Kohorn can be found in the archives section of the website of The Domino Effect at http://dominoeffectbook.com/archives.htm. The website http://www.unmarriedamerica.org/Archives/  also contains digitized copies of some of the records in this collection.


April 25, 2012

40 years ago: a career of equal rights advocacy was launched

The year 2012 marks the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the Gay Law Students Association in Los Angeles.  This was the first such group in the nation and a precursor to later-formed LGBT bar associations and law student groups, such as current law OutLaw chapters at dozens of law schools.  I was one of the founding members of and served as the chairperson of the original Gay Law Students Association.  The archives section of this website contains some documents from 1972 and 1973 about the GLSA.  To view those documents, click here.

Also, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the California Commission on Personal Privacy.  I worked with Jay Kohorn and others to convince Gov. Jerry Brown to sign an executive order creating the Commission in 1980.  I then gave up my law practice to become the Executive Director of the Commission in 1981 and 1982.  This project represents the maturing of my advocacy from LGBT and sexual freedom issues to a broader range of concerns involving personal privacy, marital status discrimination, and family diversity, as well as the rights of people with disabilities.  For access to the documents published by the Privacy Commission, click here (and scroll down to the links for 1980 - 1982).


February 9, 2011

Civil union bill moves forward in Hawaii

SB 232 would give parties to a civil union the same rights and obligations as legally married spouses under Hawaii state law.  The measure passed the Senate in January and was approved yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee.  Minor changes were made in committee so after it is passed by the full House in a few days it must return to the Senate for concurrence in the amendments.  It then will go to the Governor's desk for his signature.  The bill will become law on January 1, 2012.

I wrote a commentary about the history of comprehensive domestic partnerships and civil unions in Hawaii, noting that I introduced the concept to the Legislature in 1995.   The commentary was published yesterday by "Civil Beat" which is an online forum for Hawaii issues.  Click here to read the commentary on their website.


December 8, 2010

In Memory of Rolland "Rusty" Morris

Rusty Morris worked as a volunteer for the Sexual Law Reporter from 1975 to 1979.  He assisted with the layout and production of this legal periodical.  In the early 1980s, he transcribed the public hearings of the California Commission on Personal Privacy.

Both of these ventures were side jobs for Rusty.  His real calling was performing on stage, television, and radio in the 1940s through 1960s.  Rusty wrote a book about his experiences in show business.  Actor Almost is his autobiography and theatrical scrapbook.

Rusty always wanted to publish his book but died in 1986 before he was able to find a publisher.  In his honor and memory, the final draft of his manuscript is being published on this website.

For a short biography, a photo, and access to his book, click here.


December 2, 2010

Illinois approves civil unions for same and opposite sex couples

Another domino has fallen.  The Illinois Legislature has passed and sent to the Governor a bill that allows same-sex couples and opposite sex couples to enter into a civil union.  Those who do so will receive all rights and assume all obligations that state law affords to married couples.  The Governor says he will sign the bill into law in the coming days.

Because the new law is gender neutral and comprehensive in scope, it virtually mirrors the comprehensive domestic partnership model that Thomas F. Coleman proposed to the Hawaii Legislature in 1996.  The gender neutral aspect of the law is in sharp contrast to the limited domestic partnership measures that were adopted, over Coleman's objection due to the exclusion of heterosexual couples, in Chicago and Cook County several years ago.  Hawaii is expected to pass a gender neutral and comprehensive civil union law in 2011.

For a commentary about the gender-neutral aspect of the new civil union law in Illinois, click here.


October 10, 2010

To commemorate the one year anniversary of the book reception held on October 11, 2009, the author is making an e-book available to the public free of charge. 

Click here to view or download the electronic version of The Domino Effect. 

Click here to purchase a printed version of The Domino Effect.

Click here to view a slide show of "The Book Comes Alive" reception.


October 1, 2010

Prostitution laws invalidated in Canada

"A domino effect of judicial decisions could quickly topple prostitution laws across Canada, as happened several years ago with prohibitions against gay marriage," according to Stephen J. Dubner, a blogger for the New York Times opinion pages.  His commentary focused on a recent ruling by Justice Susan Himmel which declared three prostitution-related laws in the province of Ontario to be unconstitutional.

Thomas F. Coleman filed legal challenges to the constitutionality of California's prostitution law in 1980.  Here are links to his brief and exhibits:

1980: Challenge to constitutionality of prostitution law
            legal brief
            appeal exhibits


September 29, 2010

Another domino has fallen.  Click here to read a commentary about a bill recently passed by the California Legislature which would implement a recommendation made by the Commission on Personal Privacy in its final report in 1982.  The measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week, had equated homosexuality with child molestation and mental illness.  The bill (AB 2199) eliminates the requirement that the state should study the causes and cures of homosexuality.


September 13, 2010

The following materials have been added to the Archive section of this website:

1974: Advocate story demand for cuts in police budget
1979: Memo on gay rights proposal for new L.A. law
1980: Petitions for fees in Pryor v. Municipal Court
1980: Letter regarding dismissal of People v. Pryor
1981: Florida Bar Examiners may not probe sexual orientation
1981: Commentary by Jay Kohorn on holistic law practice
1984: Brief on attempt to close San Francisco gay bath houses

May 25, 2010

The following materials have been added to the Archive section of this website.  In 1982, I challenged the constitutionality of the prostitution law in California and filed a legal brief on that subject.  In 1981, I filed amicus curiae briefs in Oregon and Oklahoma challenging the constitutionality of solicitation laws in those jurisdictions.  In 1980 and 1981, I challenged the constitutionality of a California statute requiring defendants convicted of consensual homosexual acts to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.  When I gave up my law practice to serve as the Executive Director of the Governor's Commission on Personal privacy in 1981, my colleague, Jay Kohorn, became the attorney of record on the case of In re Reed and successfully obtained a ruling from the California Supreme Court declaring the registration requirement for misdemeanor sex offenses to be unconstitutional.

Here are links to the materials added to the Archives today:

1980: Challenge to constitutionality of prostitution law
            legal brief
            appeal exhibits

1980-1983: Challenge to constitutionality of sex registration law
           1983: Supreme Court ruling in In Re Reed
           1983: Implications of the Supreme Court ruling in Reed
           1983: LA Times story
           1982: LA Times commentary

           1982: Petition in California Supreme Court
           1980-1982: exhibits showing lower court challenges to law
           1980: Appellate decision in People v. Ripley
           1980: Appellate brief in People v. Ripley

1981: Challenge to solicitation law in Tulsa, Oklahoma

1981: Challenge to solicitation law in Oregon

May 4, 2010

Although it may be a temporary victory, a domino mentioned in the Epilogue of the book has fallen.  The case of Aaron Hart was mentioned in that chapter.  Aaron, an 18-year-old with mental retardation and the intellectual abilities of a six year-old boy, was sentenced to 100 years in prison for, in effect, "playing doctor" with a six year old neighbor boy.  Dr. Nora Baladerian and I got involved in helping to organize the appeal efforts and giving publicity to the case.  Last week, the Texas Court of Appeal vacated the sentence and reversed the conviction.  A new trial has been ordered.  For more information about the case, go to the following website: www.justiceforaaron.com.

April 29, 2010

Another domino is about to fall.  Click here to read a news story about a bill passed by the Hawaii Legislature today which would allow unmarried couples, of the same sex or opposite sex, to form civil unions and to receive all of the benefits of marriage.  If it is not vetoed by the governor, this new law will mirror the recommendation made by Thomas F. Coleman to the Hawaii Legislature in 1996 to enact a comprehensive domestic partnership act open to all unmarried couples regardless of gender.  Click here for information from the Legislature's website.  Click here for the text of the bill.

March 15, 2010

An "archives" section has been added to the website.  It contains thousands of pages of scanned documents, legal briefs, memos, letters, and photos relevant to the chapters of the book.  Images are generally jpg files.  Documents are pdf files and are searchable for key words or phrases. 

November 18, 2009

A slide show of the October 11, 2009 book reception has been added to the website.  To view the presentation, click here.  Once you get to the new page, you can view it full screen by clicking on the button at the lower right side of the page.

November 13, 2009

Michigan attorney Rudy Serra has written a review of The Domino Effect. It was published yesterday in LGBT publication Between the Lines.  Rudy says the book "educates and inspires."  He also says: Coleman's experience is instructive for everyone who wants a fairer society."  To read the complete review, click here.

October 16, 2009

A resolution recognizing the publication of The Domino Effect and commending the author and others was signed today by members of the Los Angeles City Council, as well as the Mayor, the City Attorney, and the City Controller.  To view an image of the resolution, click here.

October 15, 2009

A commentary about a book reception in Los Angeles was posted by David Link on the Independent Gay Forum, a website for writers to comment on LGBT issues.  To read the commentary, click here.

October 11, 2009

A reception to honor many of the people mentioned in the book was held at the home of Dr. Nora Baladerian today.  About 45 people attended the event, among them were several former elected officials, including an Attorney General, State Senator, Los Angeles City Councilman, and a current Court of Appeal Justice.  Click here to view a slide show of the event, entitled "The Book Comes Alive."

October 4, 2009

A video of an interview with the author has been added to You Tube.


September 19, 2009

Photos from the book signing event in Michigan have been added to the website.

An audio file of the presentation at Wayne State University School of Law has been added to the website.

For links to both of these new additions to the site, click here.

September 13 - 14, 2009

Thomas F. Coleman is scheduled to speak at two events in Michigan.  For more information, click here.

September 6, 2009

A memorial was held today for attorney Albert Gordon, an advocate who fought for gay rights in the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles.  Click here for the obituary story.

August 28, 2009

Psychology Today's "Living Single Blog" Mentions The Domino Effect  and Interviews Its Author As a Single-Minded Change Agent

The Domino Effect "is an important contribution to our understanding of the history of equal rights advocacy
over the past four decades."
                                   -- Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.


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