NYLAG launched its LGBT Project last fall to ensure that low-income members of the LGBT community have access to justice on myriad legal matters that contribute to the client’s state of poverty. Reaching out to LGBT clients through community-based organizations and NYLAG’s 41 intake sites, the Project’s reputation is rapidly growing as a reliable resource for high quality, culturally sensitive legal services.

Among the many legal issues addressed through the Project is domestic violence. As in any community, the problem of domestic violence among same-sex couples is prevalent. The case of JP, a young man who sought help from NYLAG is just one example. JP was referred to NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project after he spoke with a counselor at the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP). For almost one year, JP lived with his boyfriend TS in a constant state of fear. TS, a drug addict, repeatedly asked JP for money to purchase cocaine. When JP would refuse, TS would become enraged, and subsequently threaten and physically abuse JP. Fearing for his life, JP left his apartment and took up temporary residence with a friend.

NYLAG Orrick Fellow Virginia Goggin and legal intern Ben Salvina assisted JP in preparing a petition for a temporary exclusionary Order of Protection at Manhattan Family Court. JP stated in his petition that TS had choked him, threatened him with a knife, held him against a wall, destroyed almost all of his personal belongings, and threatened to take his dogs to a shelter where they would surely be put down. The referee believed JP’s allegations and granted the temporary Order of Protection.

With further assistance from NYLAG advocates, JP returned to the Manhattan Family Court one week later to request a final exclusionary Order of Protection. When TS failed to appear at the hearing, Virginia Goggin performed an inquest in which she asked JP to relay the allegations to the presiding judge. The judge found JP to be credible and granted a two-year exclusionary order of protection that directed TS to stay away from JP and his two dogs. In the end, JP was able to have the police escort TS out of his apartment.