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2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow Munmeeth Soni receives inaugural M. Katherine B. Darmer Outstanding Community Service Award

(June 5, 2012) Newport Beach, Calif.—The Orange County Lavender Bar Association (OCLBA) today announced that Union Bank, N.A., will be the Presenting Sponsor of OCLBA’s Second Anniversary Party, to be held on July 18 in Irvine. OCLBA also announced that Munmeeth Soni of the Public Law Center will receive the inaugural M. Katherine B. Darmer Outstanding Community Service Award and The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law will be honored with the 2012 Community Leadership Award.


This is Union Bank’s second sponsorship of OCLBA since the bar association’s founding in 2010. As the Presenting Sponsor, Union Bank has committed the lead gift for OCLBA’s signature annual event.


“OCLBA is extremely proud to partner with Union Bank on our Second Anniversary Party,” said OCLBA President Andreas J. Meyer. “With this gift, Union Bank is investing in the future of Orange County and the future of LGBT equality and we applaud them for sharing that vision with us. We look forward to continuing the vibrant relationship between OCLBA and Union Bank in the years to come.”


“Union Bank has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in our communities and among our employees,” said Union Bank Senior Vice President and Regional Executive Robbin Narike Preciado. “We’re proud to support OCLBA as a natural extension of our work and commitment to the LGBT community.”


OCLBA also announced that, in addition to Union Bank’s Presenting Sponsorship, as of the date of this release, Aitken, Aitken & Cohn, Crowell & Moring, Gibson Dunn, Jones Day, and Western State College of Law have committed to Champion Sponsorships.


At the Second Anniversary Party presented by Union Bank, OCLBA will honor The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the nation’s leading LGBT legal and public policy think tank.


The Williams Institute will receive the 2012 Community Leadership Award, in recognition of its groundbreaking research and education programs.


“Over the past ten years The Williams Institute has established itself as the national leader in research on policy matters impacting the LGBT community,” said Meyer. “That research has played a critical role in the success of numerous federal and state cases challenging discriminatory laws, including the landmark Perry v. Schwarzenegger case. Williams Institute scholars are also greatly enhancing the sensitivity of judges and lawyers around the country to LGBT issues through their sophisticated education programs. Given our common mission of increasing awareness among the bench and bar about LGBT issues, the Lavender Bar Association is delighted to honor the vision of The Williams Institute and the cutting-edge research and teaching of its scholars.”


“We are honored to be recognized and we congratulate our co-honorees” said Brad Sears, Executive Director of The Williams Institute and Assistant Dean of the UCLA School of Law. “Our mission includes providing relevant research and education programs to judges and attorneys on LGBT law and policy issues, and we have enjoyed working with the Lavender Bar Association to further this mission.”


This year, OCLBA is proud to honor the memory of the late Katherine Darmer by presenting the inaugural M. Katherine B. Darmer Outstanding Community Service Award to Munmeeth Soni. Ms. Soni, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Public Law Center, is being recognized for her superb work advocating on behalf of LGBT asylum seekers detained in Orange County. Ms. Soni was nominated and selected by unanimous vote of the OCLBA Board of Directors.


“Munmeeth is one of very few attorneys in the county advocating for and mobilizing the bar to advocate for LGBT people who fear to return to their native countries,” said Meyer. “If it weren’t for her tireless work, dozens of LGBT individuals would be without skilled representation and would be at severe risk of being sent back to countries that pose grave threats to LGBT people. Munmeeth is saving lives through her work, and we’re very proud to honor her for that.”


Public Law Center Executive Director Ken Babcock said, “Munmeeth brings a level of exceptional devotion, passion and commitment to her work for our immigration clients. We are extremely proud of her and her work under her present fellowship on behalf of LGBT asylum seekers, made possible through the generosity of Equal Justice Works and the firm of Latham & Watkins, LLP. We are particularly honored that she has been selected by OCLBA to receive an award named in honor of such an important voice for equality and justice as the late Katherine Darmer, whose husband Roman is a member of our Board of Directors.”


Finally, OCLBA announced plans to establish a memorial scholarship in partnership with the Orange County Equality Coalition (OCEC) and other LGBT equality advocates to honor Katherine Darmer and fund a merit scholarship for a law student committed to advancing LGBT equality in Orange County. Katherine Darmer was a civil rights leader, law professor, and agent of change for LGBT equality in Orange County. She was a founding board member of OCLBA and founding member of OCEC prior to her passing earlier this year.


ORANGE COUNTY LAVENDER BAR ASSOCIATION Second Anniversary Party presented by Union Bank HONORING The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Munmeeth Soni of the Public Law Center


Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.

Hosted cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert.

The Sky Garden at The Michelson Building

3161 Michelson Drive, Irvine, California


The Second Anniversary Party is presented by Union Bank; championed by Aitken, Aitken & Cohn, Crowell & Moring, Gibson Dunn, Jones Day, Western State College of Law, and The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law; and hosted by Bryan Cave LLP and Soiree Catering.


To RSVP, visit Suggested donation: $35. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For information, contact Andreas Meyer at or by phone at (213) 359-6147.


The Orange County Lavender Bar Association (OCLBA) is the official association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied attorneys, judges, and law students in Orange County. Founded in 2010, OCLBA produces a dynamic series of programs that connect the bar and lay communities in Orange County to advocacy, education, charity, mentorship, networking, and community building activities that advance LGBT equality. OCLBA is an affiliate of the Orange County Bar Association.