Wednesday, May 27, 2015

          Acclaimed LGBTQ Scholar Aaron Belkin Joins UC Hastings Faculty

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          Professor Aaron Belkin will join UC Hastings as a visiting professor in the fall of 2015.

          Belkin is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University and the founding director of the Palm Center, a leading gay rights non-profit originally affiliated with UC Santa Barbara. 

          Belkin is the author of five books and numerous articles on military diversity. He was instrumental in the public education campaign leading to the 2010 legislative repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which punished openly lesbian, gay and bisexual members of the armed forces. Now, he and the Palm Center have turned their focus to the military’s ban on transgender personnel.

          While at UC Hastings for a one-year visiting professorship, Belkin will teach social science research and LGBTQ rights litigation in the spring semester while continuing his research. As one of the few non-JD faculty at UC Hastings, Professor Belkin will bring an interdisciplinary perspective to examining cases dealing with marriage equality, family law, and sexuality in the military.

          “There’s a powerful relationship between litigation strategies and lobbying, public education and grassroots organizing,” he said. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is seen by some advocates as a textbook example of how to pursue a range of strategies which enhance the chances of the court case’s success.” He recalled how the federal district court judge who overturned “don’t ask, don’t tell” cited the exact arguments that the community had been advancing in the media as part of its public education campaign. “Social science empowered the litigation, and vice versa, and we will explore that in the course,” he said.

          Belkin has previously collaborated on projects and papers with Provost & Academic Dean Elizabeth L. Hillman, who considers Belkin’s appointment a way to diversify academic offerings at UC Hastings. “Aaron has been singularly successful in advocating for LGBT rights,” Hillman said. “The social science focus of his course will show students who are committed to making change that effective legal strategies often involve disciplines outside legal doctrine and beyond the courtroom,” she said. His appointment is independently funded. 

          For his part, Belkin is delighted to be joining the UC Hastings faculty and working again with Hillman. “I’m also looking forward to meeting and working with a wide range of other faculty members whose work involves social justice and the intersection of law and social science,” he said.

          To read more about Professor Belkin and his work at the Palm Center, see: http://aaronbelkin.org and http://www.palmcenter.org

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