Arthur S. Leonard

Robert F. Wagner Professor of Labor and Employment Law
Editor, LGBT Law Notes

Arthur S. Leonard

When Arthur Leonard first came to New York Law School in 1982, only one state banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gay sex was illegal in half the country, and there were only a handful of lawyers actively litigating sexual orientation discrimination cases.

Today, he reports proudly, the situation has radically changed. “The field has expanded dramatically—the issue of sexual orientation discrimination is being litigated all over,” says Professor Leonard, who has been instrumental in chronicling the legal aspects of the lesbian and gay community with his publication of the widely respected LGBT Law Notes, which is available on the New York Law School Justice Action Center website. The only publication of its kind in the country, it is extensively cited in law review articles and books as a key source.

Using law to help win equality has been a guiding passion of Professor Leonard’s since he was a 10-year-old who decided that Abraham Lincoln was his ideal. “Here was an example of someone who taught himself law, became a star attorney, and helped people. To me, he was the perfect lawyer as hero.”

At Cornell, Professor Leonard majored in labor relations and was editor of the Industrial & Labor Relations Forum. He was also a student composer and bass player, but decided to attend Harvard Law School, graduating in 1977. After five years in a New York law firm, he decided to enter academic life.

“Teaching has given me an opportunity to help shape the law,” says Professor Leonard, who in 1985 wrote an influential law review article on AIDS discrimination that helped form the nation’s legal response to the AIDS epidemic. “I found I could play a more constructive role as a legal educator than as a practitioner.”

Over the past 30 years, Professor Leonard has written numerous articles on employment law, AIDS law, and lesbian and gay law. A frequent national spokesperson on sexual orientation law, and an expert on the rapidly emerging area of gay family law, he is a contributing writer for Gay City News (formerly LGNY), New York’s weekly lesbian and gay newspaper, and has written for several other lesbian and gay newspapers in New York City. He also blogs on LGBT and AIDS legal issues.

Professor Leonard has held a variety of influential and activist positions in civic and legal organizations, including trustee of Lambda Legal, trustee of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, chair of the Section on Gay and Lesbian Legal Issues of the Association of American Law Schools, and chair of the Sex and Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He is chair of the Human Resources Committee and a trustee of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services of New York.

He has testified on the New York City gay rights bill, organized forums that helped change rules on domestic partnership benefits, and helped produce oft-cited studies of the court system and legal profession that demonstrated the need for equality of opportunity and treatment for minorities.

At NYLS, he advises the LGBT student group and has been an effective advocate for change on lesbian and gay issues. In 2000, Professor Leonard was honored by the Law School at a symposium commemorating the 20th anniversary of the now-celebrated LGBT Law Notes, which had begun as a typed, one-page sheet that he sent out to a handful of colleagues. In 2010, the Law School and the LGBT Law Association Foundation honored him again on the publication’s 30th anniversary.

Professor Leonard received the prestigious 2005 Dan Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association in recognition of his significant contributions to the advance of LGBT rights under the law.

You can also follow him on Twitter at @asleonard1.

Professor Leonard is the founding editor and writer of the widely cited newsletter, Lesbian/Gay Law Notes.


Sexuality Law, Casebook, Carolina Academic Press, 2005; 2d edition, 2009 (with Patricia Cain).

AIDS Cases and Materials. 3rd ed. Carolina Academic Press, 2002 (with W.E. Adams, Jr., M.A. Bobinski, M.L. Closen & R.M. Jarvis).

Homosexuality & the Constitution. Garland, 1997 (Editor and Introduction to each volume).

AIDS Law in a Nutshell. 2nd ed. West, 1996; 1st ed., West, 1990 (with R.M. Jarvis, M.L. Closen & D.H. Hermann).

AIDS Law and Policy: Cases and Materials. John Marshall Publishing, 1995 (with M.A. Bobinski, M.L. Closen, D.H.J. Hermann, S.H. Isaacman, R.M. Jarvis, R.R. Rivera, G.P. Schultz, M.E. Wojcik).

Sexuality & the Law: An Encyclopedia of Major Legal Cases. Garland Press, 1993.


“Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Partners Under US State or Local Law.” Chapter 7 in Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Partnerships: A Study of National, European and International Law, at 133-152, edited by R. Wintemute I M. Andenaes. Hart Publishing, 2001.

“From Bowers v. Hardwick to Romer v. Evans: Lesbian and Gay Rights in the U.S. Supreme Court.” Chapter 4 in Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy and Civil Rights, at 57–77, edited by J. D’Emilio, W. Turner & U. Vaid. St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

“United States AIDS Law: Pragmatism & Politics.” Chapter 1 in Legal Responses to AIDS in International Perspective, at 1–62, edited by S. Frankowski. Kluwer Law International, 1998.

“Employee Benefits for Domestic Partnership Families.” Chapter 24 in Proceedings of New York University 49th Annual Conference on Labor, at 455–481. Kluwer Law International, 1997.

“Equal Protection and Lesbian and Gay Rights.” Chapter 34 in A Queer World: The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, at 452–464, edited by M. Duberman. New York University Press, 1997.

“AIDS/HIV Workplace Issues: Outline and Resource Materials.” In AIDS/HIV Legal Challenges for the 90’s, at 209–260. Advanced Legal Studies, Suffolk University Law School, 1995.

“Sexual Orientation Discrimination: A Growing Issue in State and Local Law.” Chapter 8 in Contemporary Issues in Labor and Employment Law, at 179–221, edited by B. Stein. Proceedings of New York University 46th Annual National Conference on Labor. Little Brown, 1994.

“Discrimination.” Chapter 13 in AIDS Law Today: A New Guide for the Public, at 297–318, edited by S. Burris, H. Dalton, J. Miller & The Yale AIDS Law Project. Yale University Press, 1993.

“HIV and the United States Workplace Law.” Chapter 10 in International Law and AIDS, at 263–338, edited by L. Gostin & L. Porter. American Bar Association Press, 1992.

“Discrimination in Business and Employment.” Chapter 5 in Aids : Cases and Materials, at 263–338, edited by M.L. Closen. John Marshall Publishing, 1989.

“The Legal Position of Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States.” In Second International Lesbian and Gay Association Pink Book, at 99–108. University of Utrecht, Netherlands, 1988.

“AIDS as a Handicapping Condition Under Federal and State Employment Discrimination Laws.” Chapter 12 in Proceedings of New York University 40th Annual National Conference on Labor, at 12-1 to 12-48, edited by B. Stein. Matthew Bender, 1987.

“AIDS in the Workplace.” Chapter 8 in AIDS and the Law: A Guide for the Public, at 109–125, edited by S. Burris, H. Dalton & The Yale AIDS Law Project. Yale University Press, 1987.


Introduction: Trial by Jury or Trial by Motion? Summary Judgment, Iqbal, and Employment Discrimination, 57 New York Law School Law Review 659 (2012-2013).

“Gender Stereotyping: Expanding the Boundaries of Title VII” (Proceedings of the 2006 Annual Meeting, Association of American Law Schools, Section on Employment Discrimination Law), 10 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal 271-301 (2006) (with M.A.Travis, J.C. Williams, & M.A. Cherry).

“Thoughts on Lawrence v. Texas” (Symposium: Readings on Lawrence v. Texas), 11 Widener Law Review 171-187 (2005).

“The Impact of International Human Rights Developments on Sexual Minority Rights” (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day II), 49 New York Law School Law Review 525-535 (2004-2005).

“Sexual Minority Rights in the Workplace” (Twenty-First Annual Carl Warns Labor and Employment Institute), 43 Brandeis Law Journal 145-164 (2004).

Lawrence v. Texas and the New Law of Gay Rights (based on a lecture given at Ohio Northern Law School), 30 Ohio Northern University Law Review 189–210 (2004).

Ten Propositions About Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Partners, 30 Capital University Law Review 343–362 (2002).

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale: The ‘Gay Rights Activist’ as Constitutional Pariah (Symposium: After the Gay ‘90s: The New Law and Politics of Sexual Orientation).” 12 Stanford Law & Policy Review 27–35 (2001).

“Chronicling a Movement: 20 Years of Lesbian/Gay Law Notes (Symposium: Chronicling a Movement: A Symposium to Recognize the Twentieth Anniversary of the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes edited by Professor Arthur S. Leonard).” 17 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 415–564 (2000).

“Introduction: A Retrospective on the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes (Symposium: Chronicling a Movement: A Symposium to Recognize the Twentieth Anniversary of the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes edited by Professor Arthur S. Leonard).” 17 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 403–414 (2000).

“Going for the Brass Ring: The Case For Same-Sex Marriage.” Book Review of The Case For Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, by William N. Eskridge, Jr. 82 Cornell Law Review 572–593 (1997).

“Introduction (Symposium: Job Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements for HIV-Infected Health Care Professionals: Whose Privacy Is It Anyway?).” 41 New York Law School Law Review 1–3 (1996).

“Lesbian and Gay Families and the Law: A Progress Report.” 21 Fordham Urban Law Journal 927–972 (1994).

“Sexual Orientation and the Workplace: A Rapidly Developing Field.” 44 Labor Law Journal 574–583 (1993).

“A Proposal to Reform the Process for Confirming Justices of the United States Supreme Court (Colloquium: The Judicial Nomination and Confirmation Process).” 7 St. John’s Journal of Legal Commentary 193–202 (1991).

“Ethical Challenges of HIV Infection in the Workplace (Symposium on AIDS).” 5 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 53–73 (1990).

“AIDS, Employment and Unemployment (Symposium: Current Legal Issues in AIDS).” 49 Ohio State Law Journal 929–964 (1989). Reprinted in AIDS in the Workplace: Resource Materials. 3rd ed., at H-1 (Bureau of National Affairs, 1989).

Watkins v. United States Army and the Employment Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men.” 40 Labor Law Journal 438–445 (1989).

“Foreword: The Legal Challenge of AIDS (A Symposium on AIDS).” 12 Nova Law Review 961–968 (1988).

“A New Common Law of Employment Termination.” 66 North Carolina Law Review 631–686 (1988).

“AIDS and Employment: Bibliographic Resources.” 3 The Labor Lawyer 299–309 (1987).

“AIDS and Employment Law Revisited (Law, Social Policy, and Contagious Disease: A Symposium on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)).” 14 Hofstra Law Review 11–51 (1985).

“Employment Discrimination Against Persons with AIDS (Symposium: the Legal System and Homosexuality: Approbation, Accommodation, or Reprobation).” 10 University of Dayton Law Review 681–703 (1985).

“Post-Contractual Arbitrability after Nolde Brothers: A Problem of Conceptual Clarity.” 28 New York Law School Law Review 257–294 (1983).

“Specific Performance of Collective Bargaining Agreements.” 52 Fordham Law Review 193–218 (1983).

“Collective Bargaining on Issues of Health and Safety in the Public Sector: The Experience under New York’s Taylor Law.” 31 Buffalo Law Review 165–190 (1982).


Blog, ArtLeonardObservations (January 2011 -).

Blog, Leonard Link (January 2006–2012).

Editor, Lesbian/Gay Law Notes. (Bar Association for Human Rights of Greater New York, 1983–).

Legal Columnist, Gay City News. (Community Media, New York, 2002–).

Legal Columnist, POZ (Strubco, Inc., New York, 1998–2000).

Legal Reporter, LGNY (Lesbian & Gay New York, 1997–2002).

Essay in Eight Blocks Away: Memoirs of September 11, 2001 at 40–43 (New York Law School, 2002).

Letter to the editor regarding an op-ed by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, The New York Times (December 2005)

Gay Rights Workplace Revolution, 29 Human Rights: Journal of the Section on Invidual Rights and Responsibility 14–16, 25 (Summer 2003).

Legal Challenges after Lawrence, 10 Gay & Lesbian Review 21–22 (November–December 2003).

“Court Issues Unprecedented Ruling on Sexual Orientation.” 8 Employment Testing Law & Policy Reporter 38 (March 1999).

“Supreme Court Begins to Define ADA Coverage: Bragdon v. Abbott.” 7 Employment Testing Law & Policy Reporter 113 (August 1998).

“The Transformation of Gay Family Law.” 17 In Brief 8–9 (Spring/Summer 1999).

“Dutchess County Judge: Gay Father Abandoned Children.” LGNY, at 18, 22 (June 18, 1998).

“Federal Court Orders Reinstatement of Gay Teacher.” LGNY, at 18, 22 (June 18, 1998).

“Federal Court Upholds HIV Confidentiality in Prison.” LGNY, at 6 (July 2, 1998).

“Indelicate Balance: Chipping Away the ADA Leaves PWA’s on Thin Ice.” POZ, at 30 (July 1998).

“Mayor Giuliani Proposes His Domestic Partnership Policy.” 4 CityLaw 49, 51–53 (May/June 1998).

“NY Court Rules Calling Someone Gay is Defamatory.” LGNY, at 18, 22 (June 18, 1998).

“South African Court Strikes Down Sodomy Law.” 9 HIV/AIDS Legal Link, at 15 (June 4, 1998).

“Are Medically Controllable Conditions ‘Disabilities’ Under the ADA?” 6 Employment Testing Law & Policy Reporter 33 (March 1997).

“Court Finds Asymptomatic HIV Infection Covered Under ADA.” 6 Employment Testing Law & Policy Reporter 55 (April 1997).

“Supreme Court Rejects Anti-Gay Colorado Ballot Measure.” 5 Employment Testing Law & Policy Reporter 135 (September 1996).

Moderator, “Symposium Dialogue (Symposium: Job Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements for HIV-Infected Health Care Professionals: Whose Privacy Is It Anyway?).” 41 New York Law School Law Review 5–51 (1996).

“HIV-Infected Health Care Workers and Employment Discrimination Law.” 51 Record of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York 246–258 (April 1996) (Subcommittee Chair/Principal Drafter, Ad Hoc Committee on AIDS, Association of the Bar of the City of New York). Reprinted in 41 New York Law School Law Review 151–162 (1996).

“Off-Duty Conduct Laws Provide Privacy Rights for Employees.” 5 Employment Testing: Law and Policy Reporter 49–54 (April 1996).

“States Offer Workplace Protection for Lawful Off-Duty Consumption.” 5 Employment Testing: Law and Policy Reporter 104 (July 1996).

“New Defense Department Regulations Preserve ‘Sub-Element’ Exemption.” 1995 The SALT Equalizer 15 (August 1995).

“Congressional Pressure Mounts on Law School Discrimination Policies.” 1995 The SALT Equalizer 6–7 (April 1995).

“Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Popular Democracy: Courts Invalidate Anti-Gay Initiatives.” 4(3) Employment Testing Law and Policy Reporter 33–40 (March 1995).

“Courts Reject Voter Initiatives to Ban Laws That Protect Gays.” 3(2) Employment Testing: Law and Policy Reporter 24–31, 35 (February 1994).

“New York High Court Says Schools Can Bar Military Recruiters; Congressional Reaction Threatened.” 1994 The SALT Equalizer 3–4 (August 1994).

“Researching AIDS-Related Legal Questions, Part III.” in Noter Up, at 15–20. Foundation Press (1994).

“AIDS Legal Bibliography.” 2nd ed. (University of Texas Tarlton Law Library, 1993).

“California Courts Limit Laws on Sexual Orientation Bias.” 2(9) Employment Testing: Law & Policy Reporter 145–148, 160 (September 1993).

“Report on the Experience of Lesbians and Gay Men in the Legal Profession.” 48 Record of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York 843–890 (1993).

“Legal Constraints on Employment Screening for Sexual Orientation.” 1(10) Employment Testing: Law & Policy Reporter 154 (October 1992).

“Homophobia, Heterosexism and Judicial Decision Making.” 1 Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy 65–91 (1991).

Columnist, “Out/Law.” Outweek Magazine (1989–1991).

AIDS Legal Bibliography in AIDS in the Workplace: Resource Materials. 3rd ed., at I-1 to I-41. Bureau of National Affairs 1989.

Columnist, “The Law,” New York Native (1986–1989).

“Report From the Legal Front: Gay/Lesbian Rights.” 251 The Nation 12 (1989). Reprinted in Racism and Sexism (P. Rothenberg, ed., St. Martin’s Press, 1992); and Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics (W.F. Grover, ed., Harper Collins, 1992).

“AIDS Legal Bibliography.” (University of Texas Tarlton Law Library, 1988).

“Employment Discrimination Against Persons with AIDS.” 19 Clearinghouse Review 1292–1302 (1986).

Book Review of Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States 1940–1970, by John D’Emilio. 1 New York Law School Human Rights Annual 305–309 (1983).

Professor Arthur S. Leonard discusses whether the fight for marriage equality has entered its end game.