As Pride Season begins, Chuck Easton discusses legal rights and protections with CBC

Legal Aid AB
June 13, 2024

Legal Aid Alberta family lawyer Chuck Easton appeared on the Wise Counsel segment of CBC radio’s Edmonton AM morning show on June 12 to discuss legal rights and protections for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.  

Easton was speaking as the incoming chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Alliance section (SAGDA). 

Easton has lived the struggle for equal rights. It wasn’t until mid-life that he began to see legal protections for members of his community. 

“When I started law school in 2001, my relationship with my partner wasn’t recognized by the Province of Alberta,” he told Edmonton AM host Mark Connolly. “I looked at all these laws that were in place … and realized I had no place in any of those laws. And that was difficult for me.” 

As a teen in Seattle, Wa., Easton came out in 1980, as the AIDS crisis and associated hatred towards the gay community were emerging. 

He later served as a police officer in San Francisco in the 1990s – through the AIDS pandemic. While living in California, he and his late partner adopted a baby – and the adoption was challenged by the State. A judge awarded Easton and his partner full custody of their son. 

He moved to Calgary where he studied law and was called to the Bar in 2005. He worked as Crown prosecutor and a family lawyer before joining LAA. 

“It wasn’t until I was 41 years old when I finally had the legal right to marry my husband and introduce him as my husband. And that was a big deal,” he said. “For twenty-something years of my life, I was living in this relationship that was not allowed to be recognized.” 

Easton brings those personal and professional experiences to his work with SAGDA. 

The section aims to: 

  • Address the needs and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited members within the CBA 
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and action on legal issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity 
  • Encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited lawyers to actively participate in the CBA’s work 
  • Develop and provide continuing legal education and other professional development programs on legal issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity 
  • Develop member services relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited CBA members 

 SAGDA is also a founding member of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association. It connects with lesbian and gay law groups in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, among others. Its members frequently attend the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association’s (NLGLA) Lavender Law conferences. The NLGLA is affiliated with the American Bar Association. 

 Listen to the program 

CBC Edmonton AM Wise Counsel June 11, 2024 

Related story 

Legal Aid Alberta lawyer takes the lead on LGBTQ2S+ group 

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