How Can You Defend Those People?

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We all are here today because Monroe Freedman (1928–2015) came before us. Like Ellen Yaroshefsky and Abbe Smith, Monroe Freedman was a rare duality—criminal defense lawyer and earthy practitioner in one sphere, while also a distinguished scholar and professor in another.

Professor Freedman was representing what we now call lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (“LGBTQ”) organizations in the late 1950s and early 1960s—well before the events following the raid of the Stonewall Inn, and before anyone even acknowledged the names of those groups. That is, he was representing gay and lesbian people when only the bravest of them identified themselves that way at all, even privately. And he served all others seeking to vindicate their own civil rights. Although he eventually represented members of Congress, he never stopped defending the poor.

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