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Bill Smith Memorial Lecture featuring Bennett Klein

Tuesday October 11, 2016

King Hall, room 1301
5:00 PM

LAMBDA presents the 15th Annual Bill Smith Memorial Lecture

Featuring Bennett Klein, Senior Attorney and AIDS Law Project Director, GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders)


The Bill Smith Memorial Lecture honors the memory of Bill Smith '98 who passed in 2001. During Bill's short time with us, he dedicated himself to disability and LGBT rights activism. The Lecture is our way of honoring his memory, both by highlighting a powerful voice in the disability or LGBT rights arena and by awarding a small summer grant to a 1L or 2L law student doing nonprofit legal work in either of those areas.

This special event, which honors the spirit of caring and compassion, is free and open to the public. 

"Sexuality, Disability and Irrational Fear: Lessons from HIV Litigation"

Bennett KleinMr. Klein's talk will focus on key issues in combatting stigma and discrimination against people with HIV over the last two decades. It will explore how negative attitudes about sexuality, in particular gay male sexuality, the inability to rationally perceive the risk of infectious disease transmission, and differing social conceptions of disability, have presented persistent challenges in litigation and public policy. He will discuss strategies to address these issues through the lens of two cases: Bragdon v. Abbott, a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court case against a dentist with a written policy of refusing to treat patients with HIV, and Doe v. Mutual of Omaha, a pending case involving discrimination against a gay man because he takes PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent HIV transmission.

Ben Klein is a Senior Attorney and has been the AIDS Law Project Director at GLAD since 1994. Ben has litigated cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts establishing legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and people living with HIV.

Ben was lead counsel in Bragdon v. Abbott, a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established protection against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act for all people with HIV. In Massachusetts, Ben won a decision before the Division of Medical Assistance Board of Appeals in 2001 ensuring equal access to liver transplants for HIV-positive individuals under the Commonwealth's MassHealth program. In 2008, he argued before the Connecticut Supreme Court in Kerrigan & Mock v. Department of Public Health, which struck down the state exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage as unconstitutional. He has also been co-counsel in numerous cases involving the rights of transgender persons, including O'Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a U.S. Tax court decision ruling that gender reassignment surgery is "medical care" for the purpose of tax deductions, and Doe v. Clenchy, a Maine case that is the first high court decision in the country establishing the right of transgender students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.


Free MCLE Elimination of Bias Credit available (1 credit)

Reception to follow at 6:00PM in the North Lobby just outside room 1301

Business casual attire suggested. 

For more information, please contact Hannah Bogen at