05/11/2012 12:43 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Dramatic Changes on Campus at Georgetown

I was very touched and honored to learn Georgetown University Law Center's OutLaw group has created a new annual award, bearing my name, to honor a graduating law student. And I'm especially impressed with the recipient of the first Lorri L. Jean Award for Excellence in LGBTQ Leadership and Advocacy.

Much has changed at Georgetown since 1980, when some fellow students and I sued the school for refusing to recognize our LGBT group because doing so allegedly violated Catholic doctrine.
This year, by contrast, a graduating law student at the very school that refused to recognize our Gay Rights Coalition was honored for her leadership in the schools chapter of OutLaw, an LGBT student group.

Blaire Baily not only helped to ensure that the chapter -- now 160 members strong -- flourished, she worked tirelessly to make the Georgetown University Law Center environment better for everyone, especially its LGBT students.

It is thanks to leadership like Blaire's that the environment at Georgetown's Law Center has changed dramatically. There is a large LGBTQ Resource Center on the main campus. Lavender Graduation -- the occasion on which Blaire was recognized -- is a special celebration for graduating LGBT students.

In 1980, no major law firm in Washington, D.C., had an openly gay partner and few, if any, had openly gay associates. In 2012, Blaire has been recruited by the prestigious firm of Sidley & Austin, where her openness and activism are considered to be assets.

Though Blaire and her fellow graduates face a much-changed legal landscape -- a landscape they will help shape as our fight for equal rights continues -- many battles still ahead in our fight for the full equality that we deserve.

I am confident that these bright, capable graduates have the potential to change our country for the better. And I hope they will continue to devote themselves to forwarding the LGBT community's fight for full equality under the law -- whether by pursuing full-time careers in activism, by volunteering at LGBT organizations, and/or by supporting organizations at the forefront of the movement.

Lorri L. Jean was the chief plaintiff in Gay Rights Coalition of Georgetown University Law Center v. Georgetown University. The case was filed in 1980 and, after nine years of fighting, including motions practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, Georgetown settled the case and permitted the establishment of LGBT student groups at the Law Center and on the undergraduate campus.