Federal Court Promotes Civil Rights for LGBT, State Sovereignty

On Thursday, May 31, 2012 the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, sitting in Boston, ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution and should be struck down. [Decision here.]

Section 3 of DOMA states marriage is between a man and a woman, which means that gay married couples are ineligible for federal benefits, such as tax breaks and Social Security survivor benefits afforded to straight couples, those benefits being based on the marriage state.

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Momentum Gaining for Key UN Disability Treaty

UN logoRecently, news came out that Senators from both sides of the aisle are supporting the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This treaty, while signed by President Obama in 2009, still needs ratification by the U.S. Senate to have full effect here in America. This bipartisan support is promising not only for a frequently-gridlocked Senate, but the fate of this historic, yet stalled, treaty.

There has been a concerning argument by those opposing the treaty that ratification will override U.S. law and force those in our country to have additional legal and financial obligations. These fears are not only unfounded, but contrary to what would happen if the treaty goes into effect.

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Chris Gowen Wins 2012 Adjunct Professor of the Year Award for AU Washington College of Law

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Professor Gowen celebrates his new award.

This April, Gowen Group partner Christopher Gowen was awarded the 2012 Adjunct Professor of the Year Award at American University, Washington College of Law where he teaches both Legal Ethics and Upper Level Seminars.  One of four hundred adjuncts, Chris began teaching at the Washington College of Law in May 2010, quickly becoming a favorite among the student body for not only his command of, and passion for, the law but also his humor and compassion.  “The award was well-chosen,” observed Brenna Daugherty, one of Chris’ students this past year, “My law school experience is a better one for having worked with him.”

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Annual Disability Law Symposium Highlights Accomplishments, Notes Hurdles

tenbroek photo

Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, the symposium's namesake.

On April 19 and 20, the National Federation of the Blind held its fifth annual tenBroek Disability Law Syposium. This yearly event began as a one day affair with less than 50 participants. With a stellar reputation in the disability legal community, the syposium now is nearly two days long, has dozens of attendees, and draws keynote speakers from the upper levels of government, such as former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez.

This year the Gowen Group was proud to have Bill Phelan, partner in charge of the firm’s disability law practice, speak at the event.

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Gowen Group Takes to the Catwalk

Rachael Dean Photography logoYou may have noticed that the Gowen Group’s website looks a little more en vogue. Thanks to the professional services of Rachael Dean Photography, the attorneys partook in a photo shoot at their downtown DC office. In addition to some of the fantastic staff shots Rachael was able to grab, she provided some pictures of the DC area to give our website some local flair.

You can find the choice photos on our website, but check out the additional shots below.

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(Try to) Swim at Your Own Risk

The weather is getting warm and many Americans are beginning to plan their spring and summer vacations. For those Americans who have mobility impairments or use a wheelchair, the hotel or motel they choose plays a key role in where they end up staying. Even though we are decades removed from the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are still many hotels that are not accessible for those with physical disabilities.

One amenity offered by hotels that should soon always be accessible are swimming pools. Unfortunately, pressure from the hotel industry has delayed regulations issued by the Justice Department that would have required hotel operators to make their swimming pools accessible by installing lifts. For those with mobility impairments and the elderly, these lifts are key in making sure someone gets safely in and out of the pool and can enjoy the water like anyone else staying at the hotel.

Currently, due to this pressure from hotel lobbyists, the rules are now to go into effect on May 17, 2012 with the potential of having the compliance deadline extended even further to September 17, 2012. But that still doesn’t mean you or a family member should encounter an inaccessible hotel on your upcoming trip.

In addition to swimming pools, the attorneys of The Gowen Group are here to make sure these hotels and motels are accessible in the rooms, services, and goods they provide to you. Contact us today if you would like to talk to us further about making sure your upcoming vacation is an accessible one! In the meantime, we will keep watch for whether the regulations go into effect before or after vacation season.