This May, it is our honor to highlight major donor Joe Gale.
Joe has served as a Judge of the United States Tax Court since 1996 where he was the first openly gay man to be appointed to a federal judgeship.
What brought you to SMYAL?
I got involved back when my friend Mike Schwartz was Board Chairman of SMYAL. I trusted Mike’s judgment and believed that I should support an organization he was so enthusiastic about. So I went to one of the Brunches many years ago and was impressed with SMYAL’s mission.
What inspired you to become a major donor?
I was terrorized by Jeff Nelson and Rob Cogorno. No seriously, to my mind SMYAL provides support to members of our community when they are at a very vulnerable point in their lives, threatened on many fronts. The safe haven that SMYAL provides is very important to me because I think I know what it’s like to be facing these issues of identity and self-worth at a young age. I believe SMYAL is vital to the well-being of so many and gives them a foundation on which to build happy, productive lives.
What is your favorite memory from your time with SMYAL?
Wendy Rieger as brunch emcee. Hands down.
As the first openly gay male Federal judge, can you tell us a bit more about what that means to you and how you’ve seen the judiciary evolve from an LGBTQ inclusion perspective?
Honestly, I didn’t think it was all that significant at the time, especially since my appointment was to the United States Tax Court. But then, on an entirely random basis, I was assigned what became a ground-breaking case on transgender rights, concerning the question of whether the costs of sex reassignment surgery could be deducted as a medical expense. That taught me the importance of having all voices heard in the Federal judiciary. Not surprisingly, the number of LGBTQ persons serving in the judiciary has grown significantly since my appointment in 1996. There is even an LGBTQ judges association–the International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges–with almost 100 members.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Just like everyone else, I’m looking forward to a return to normalcy where, personally, I can spend time with friends and, professionally, resume in person courtroom proceedings.