April 30, 2016
Domino Effect in Long Beach Lewd
A judge in Long Beach, California has
dismissed a lewd conduct case on the ground that the police were engaging in
discriminatory enforcement of the law. In his
ruling, the judge found that by only using male decoys in such cases --
and by using suggestive gestures and conduct in this case -- the police were
intentionally targeting gay men.
The foundation for the judge's ruling was
based on two cases from the 1970s: Pryor v. Municipal Court and Murguia v.
Municipal Court. As a young lawyer, Thomas Coleman won the Pryor case
in the California Supreme Court. The case prohibits undercover
officers from using suggestive gestures and conduct in the enforcement of
the lewd conduct law. As a law student, Coleman wrote a legal memo
titled "Discriminatory Enforcement of the Law as a Defense" to lewd conduct
cases. His audit of lewd conduct cases with law students Rick Angel
and Barry Copilow in 1972 was cited by the Supreme Court in Pryor when it
discussed the issue of discriminatory enforcement of the law. The
audit is mentioned at pages 9 and 10 of The Domino Effect.
for the e-book.
It is heartening to see that -- all these
decades later -- dominoes continue to fall based on the research and
advocacy of Coleman and others in the 1970s.
August 17, 2015
Coleman and Kohorn
Collection is Available
One Gay and Lesbian
Archives at the University of Southern California has finished organizing
the papers of attorneys Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn.
Collection 2014-031 is
known as the “Thomas F. Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn
The Online Archive of
California says: “The processing this collection has
been funded by a generous grant to the One National Gay
and Lesbian Archives from the National Historical
Publications and Records Commission. An addendum to this
collection has been funded by a generous grant from the
Council on Library and Information Resources.” The
collection was processed by Kyle Morgan in 2014. The
collection contains historical materials from 1932 to
Below are some excerpts
from the description of the collection found on the
webite of the Online Archive of California. The link to
the portal for this collection is found at:
Scope and Contents
Criminal court records,
civil court records, correspondence, law review
articles, clippings, reports, state bills and laws,
notes, meeting minutes, grant applications, biographical
information, and other professional papers of Thomas F.
Coleman and Jay M. Kohorn documenting their work as
sexual civil liberty attorneys and advocates from
1972-1991. The records document Coleman's and Kohorn's
legal work, publications, participation in government
and non-profit commissions and committees, and
involvement in sexual civil liberty issues on behalf of
the LGBT community.
Biographical / Historical
"Thomas F. Coleman and Jay
M. Kohorn see themselves as participants in and shapers
of what they call the most important constitutional
movement of this century: The growth of the right to
privacy and personal autonomy." -quote from "Portrait of
a Sexual Civil Liberties Office," box 10, folder 21.
Thomas F. Coleman graduated
from the Loyola University School of Law in
in 1973. In 1974, Coleman became publisher of the Sexual
Law Reporter, a joint venture of the National Committee
on Sexual Civil Liberties (NCSCL) and the American Civil
Liberties Union to publish analyses on statutory and
case law in the field of sexuality. Jay M. Kohorn joined
the venture as associate editor in 1979. Coleman and
Kohorn served as co-directors for NCSCL and continued to
work on issues related to the Sexual Law Reporter
Coleman and Kohorn were
but worked nationally on legal cases that affected
sexual civil liberties, whether as litigators,
consultants, or advocates submitting friend-of-the-court
briefs. They fought against the discriminatory use of
loitering, solicitation, and lewd and lascivious conduct
laws against gay and lesbian people. They fought against
discrimination in policing, criminal laws, employment,
military service, marriage equality, and family law.
They fought the mandated closure of
bathhouses in 1984 and California Proposition 6, The
LaRouche Initiative, in 1986. They gave seminars,
lectures, and special assistance on sexual civil liberty
legal issues to college classes, gay and lesbian groups,
service providers, special interest groups, public
defenders, and prosecutors.
Coleman was director of the
Commission on Personal Privacy and authored the
commission’s final report (Kohorn wrote the executive
summary) in 1982. Coleman and Kohorn served as
consultants to the Los Angeles City Council's Task Force
on Family Diversity, with Coleman authoring and Kohorn
editing the final report. Coleman served as a member of
the Attorney General of California's Commission on
Racial, Ethnic, Religious and Minority Violence; as a
member of the California Legislature's Joint Select Task
Force on the Changing Family; and as chairperson of the
City Attorney of Los Angeles' Consumer Task Force on
Marital Status Discrimination. Kohorn was a founder of
the Lambda Lawyers Roundtable, a national collection of
lesbian and gay activists who sought to legalize private
consensual sexual conduct. Both have published
extensively and been honored for their work on behalf of
sexual civil liberties and the gay and lesbian
community. Coleman's book The Domino Effect
details over four decades of his, and to a lesser extent
Kohorn's, legal, lobbying, and special project work.
documenting the work of Thomas Coleman and Jay Kohorn
can be found in the archives section of the website of
The Domino Effect at
contains digitized copies of some of the records in this
April 25, 2012
40 years ago: a career of equal rights
advocacy was launched
The year 2012 marks the 40th Anniversary
of the founding of the Gay Law Students Association in Los Angeles.
This was the first such group in the nation and a precursor to later-formed LGBT bar associations and law student groups, such as current law OutLaw
chapters at dozens of law schools. I was one of the founding members
of and served as the chairperson of the original Gay Law Students
Association. The archives section of this website contains some
documents from 1972 and 1973 about the GLSA. To view those documents,
Also, this year marks the 30th
Anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the California Commission
on Personal Privacy. I worked with Jay Kohorn and others to convince
Gov. Jerry Brown to sign an executive order creating the Commission in 1980.
I then gave up my law practice to become the Executive Director of the
Commission in 1981 and 1982. This project represents the maturing of
my advocacy from LGBT and sexual freedom issues to a broader range of
concerns involving personal privacy, marital status discrimination, and
family diversity, as well as the rights of people with disabilities.
For access to the documents published by the Privacy Commission,
click here (and scroll down to the links for 1980 - 1982).
February 9, 2011
Civil union bill
moves forward in Hawaii
SB 232 would give parties to a civil union the same rights and
obligations as legally married spouses under Hawaii state law. The
measure passed the Senate in January and was approved yesterday by the House
Judiciary Committee. Minor changes were made in committee so after it
is passed by the full House in a few days it must return to the Senate for
concurrence in the amendments. It then will go to the Governor's desk
for his signature. The bill will become law on January 1, 2012.
I wrote a commentary about the history of
comprehensive domestic partnerships and civil unions in Hawaii, noting that
I introduced the concept to the Legislature in 1995. The
commentary was published yesterday by "Civil Beat" which is an online forum
for Hawaii issues.
Click here to read the commentary on their website.
In Memory of Rolland "Rusty"
Rusty Morris worked as a volunteer
for the Sexual Law Reporter from 1975 to 1979. He
assisted with the layout and production of this legal
periodical. In the early 1980s, he transcribed the
public hearings of the California Commission on Personal
Both of these ventures were side
jobs for Rusty. His real calling was performing
on stage, television, and radio in the 1940s through
1960s. Rusty wrote a book about his experiences in
show business. Actor Almost is his autobiography
and theatrical scrapbook.
Rusty always wanted to publish his
book but died in 1986 before he was able to find a
publisher. In his honor and memory, the final
draft of his manuscript is being published on this
For a short biography, a photo,
and access to his book,
Illinois approves civil unions for same and opposite sex
Another domino has fallen.
The Illinois Legislature has passed and sent to the
Governor a bill that allows same-sex couples and
opposite sex couples to enter into a civil union.
Those who do so will receive all rights and assume all
obligations that state law affords to married couples.
The Governor says he will sign the bill into law in the
Because the new law is gender
neutral and comprehensive in scope, it virtually mirrors
the comprehensive domestic partnership model that Thomas
F. Coleman proposed to the Hawaii Legislature in 1996.
The gender neutral aspect of the law is in sharp
contrast to the limited domestic partnership measures
that were adopted, over Coleman's objection due to the
exclusion of heterosexual couples, in Chicago and Cook
County several years ago. Hawaii is expected to
pass a gender neutral and comprehensive civil union law
For a commentary about the
gender-neutral aspect of the new civil union law in
To commemorate the one year
anniversary of the book reception held on October 11,
2009, the author is making an e-book available to the
public free of charge.
Click here to view or download the electronic
version of The Domino Effect.
Click here to purchase a printed version of The
Click here to view a slide show of "The Book Comes
October 1, 2010
Prostitution laws invalidated in Canada
"A domino effect of judicial
decisions could quickly topple prostitution laws across
Canada, as happened several years ago with prohibitions
against gay marriage," according to Stephen J. Dubner, a
blogger for the New York Times opinion pages. His
commentary focused on a recent ruling by Justice Susan
Himmel which declared three prostitution-related laws in
the province of Ontario to be unconstitutional.
Thomas F. Coleman filed legal
challenges to the constitutionality of California's
prostitution law in 1980. Here are links to his
brief and exhibits:
Challenge to constitutionality of
September 29, 2010
Another domino has fallen.
Click here to read a commentary
about a bill recently passed by the California Legislature which
would implement a recommendation made by the Commission
on Personal Privacy in its final report in 1982.
The measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger this week, had equated homosexuality with child
molestation and mental illness. The bill (AB 2199)
eliminates the requirement that the state should study the causes
and cures of homosexuality.
September 13, 2010
The following materials have been
added to the Archive section of this website:
Advocate story demand for cuts in police budget
Memo on gay rights proposal for new L.A. law
Petitions for fees in Pryor v. Municipal Court
Letter regarding dismissal of People v. Pryor
Florida Bar Examiners may not probe sexual orientation
Commentary by Jay Kohorn on holistic law practice
Brief on attempt to close San Francisco gay bath houses
May 25, 2010
The following materials have been
added to the Archive section of this website. In
1982, I challenged the constitutionality of the
prostitution law in California and filed a legal brief
on that subject. In 1981, I filed amicus curiae
briefs in Oregon and Oklahoma challenging the
constitutionality of solicitation laws in those
jurisdictions. In 1980 and 1981, I challenged the
constitutionality of a California statute requiring
defendants convicted of consensual homosexual acts to
register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
When I gave up my law practice to serve as the Executive
Director of the Governor's Commission on Personal
privacy in 1981, my colleague, Jay Kohorn, became the
attorney of record on the case of In re Reed and
successfully obtained a ruling from the California
Supreme Court declaring the registration requirement for
misdemeanor sex offenses to be unconstitutional.
Here are links to the materials
added to the Archives today:
Challenge to constitutionality of
Challenge to constitutionality of sex registration law
1983: Supreme Court ruling in In Re Reed
1983: Implications of the Supreme Court ruling in Reed
1983: LA Times story
1982: LA Times commentary
1982: Petition in California Supreme Court
1980-1982: exhibits showing lower court challenges to
1980: Appellate decision in People v. Ripley
1980: Appellate brief in People v. Ripley
Challenge to solicitation law in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Challenge to solicitation law in Oregon
May 4, 2010
Although it may be a temporary
victory, a domino mentioned in the Epilogue of the book
has fallen. The case of Aaron Hart was mentioned
in that chapter. Aaron, an 18-year-old with mental
retardation and the intellectual abilities of a six
year-old boy, was sentenced to 100 years in prison for,
in effect, "playing doctor" with a six year old neighbor
boy. Dr. Nora Baladerian and I got involved in
helping to organize the appeal efforts and giving
publicity to the case. Last week, the Texas Court
of Appeal vacated the sentence and reversed the
conviction. A new trial has been ordered.
For more information about the case, go to the following
April 29, 2010
Another domino is about to fall.
to read a news story about a bill passed by the Hawaii
Legislature today which would allow unmarried couples,
of the same sex or opposite sex, to form civil unions
and to receive all of the benefits of marriage. If
it is not vetoed by the governor, this new law will
mirror the recommendation made by Thomas F. Coleman to
the Hawaii Legislature in 1996 to enact a comprehensive
domestic partnership act open to all unmarried couples
regardless of gender.
Click here for information from the Legislature's
Click here for the text of the bill.
March 15, 2010
"archives" section has been added to the website.
It contains thousands of pages of scanned documents,
legal briefs, memos, letters, and photos relevant to the
chapters of the book. Images are generally jpg
files. Documents are pdf files and are searchable
for key words or phrases.
A slide show of the October 11,
2009 book reception has been added to the website.
To view the presentation,
click here. Once
you get to the new page, you can view it full screen by
clicking on the button at the lower right side of the
Michigan attorney Rudy Serra has
written a review of The Domino Effect. It was
published yesterday in LGBT publication Between the
Lines. Rudy says the book "educates and
inspires." He also says: Coleman's experience is
instructive for everyone who wants a fairer society."
To read the complete review,
A resolution recognizing the
publication of The Domino Effect and commending the
author and others was signed today by members of the Los
Angeles City Council, as well as the Mayor, the City
Attorney, and the City Controller. To view an
image of the resolution, click here.
A commentary about a book
reception in Los Angeles was posted by David Link on the
Independent Gay Forum, a website for writers to comment
on LGBT issues. To read the commentary,
A reception to honor many of the
people mentioned in the book was held at the home of Dr.
Nora Baladerian today. About 45 people attended
the event, among them were several former elected
officials, including an Attorney General, State Senator,
Los Angeles City Councilman, and a current Court of
Click here to view a slide show of the event,
entitled "The Book Comes Alive."
A video of an interview with the
author has been added to You Tube.
Photos from the book signing event
in Michigan have been added to the website.
An audio file of the presentation
at Wayne State University School of Law has been added
to the website.
For links to both of these new
additions to the site, click here.
September 13 - 14,
Thomas F. Coleman is scheduled to
speak at two events in Michigan. For
more information, click here.
A memorial was held today for
attorney Albert Gordon, an advocate who fought for gay
rights in the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles.
Click here for the obituary
Psychology Today's "Living Single Blog" Mentions The
Domino Effect and Interviews Its Author As a
Single-Minded Change Agent
The Domino Effect "is an important contribution
to our understanding of the history of equal rights
over the past four decades."
-- Bella DePaulo, Ph.D.