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You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.

Today Angela talks with host Steve O about:

  • The path Angela took to becoming an LGBTQ lawyer and rights activist
  • How she has created a safe space for the LGBTQ community with her firm
  • Angela’s involvement in helping marriage equality become a reality
  • The move to ban conversion therapy throughout the United States

They also talk about what to expect during your first Giampolo Law consultation if you are in need of legal help.

 

Speaker 1:
…programming is sponsored by Ask The Experts. The views express do not necessarily reflect the views of this station, its management or Beasley Media Group. Welcome to the Ask the Experts show sponsored by the Cardamone Law Firm for injured workers. Now sit back as Philadelphia’s top experts in the legal, health, financial and home improvement world, educate you in the fields of workers comp law, wealth management, family law, estate planning, pain management, and more. Call in now, if you have a question for our experts at 888-329-3306. Now let’s welcome our host, Steve O.

Angela:
Oh, you’re muted, Steve.

Steve:
Are we unmuted now?

Angela:
There we go.

Steve:
Okay. So welcome Philadelphia, I hope the weather is beautiful there as it is here in sunny Florida. We have another Ask the Expert show. We’re with you every Tuesday from 10 to 11. Our first show, and I am so glad that I get to be part of educating the community about LGBQT law. Because I have learned so much from, I would say one of the most powerful attorneys, when it comes to LGBQT law. Let me introduce you to a person, a lawyer here in town. Probably a lot of you already know already. Her name is Angela Giampolo. You can’t miss a name like that. It took me two shows to get it right, but good morning, Angela.

Angela:
Good Morning, Steve. If it took you two shows to get my name right, it’ll take you three shows to get the acronym right for LGBTQ. So write that down. LGBT and ends with Q.

Steve:
Oh, so I got it.

Angela:
You’re ending with T and you’re saying T twice. But just, yeah, write it down. LGBTQ law.

Steve:
That will never, ever happen again.

Angela:
No worries.

Steve:
First of all, we’re going to explain that to you, for those of you who don’t know. I got to tell you, I am so glad that you’re doing a show like this. I’m really glad that you have plans to spread out throughout the country. Because people do need to be educated and not be fools that have their head in the sand.

Angela:
Right. Yeah, and more so, it’s more about helping the LGBTQ community throughout the country, more so than it is educating people that may have their head in the sand. But that happens as a consequence of my expanding my work nationwide in addition to providing these services across the country, people will also be educated as a result. But living on the coasts, living in Philadelphia, we’re in a haven. We were in a bubble. Where you down in Florida near Wilton Manors is a bubble, is a haven for the LGBTQ community. Out on the west coast in LA, San Diego, San Fran, those are havens. Up in Seattle. No matter which corner of the country you look at, on the coasts were lucky, and that’s not true necessarily for the LGBTQ community in Missouri or in Fort Worth Alabama or in Tennessee and some of the places in the Midwest and in the south. What you alluded to, Giampolo Law group is in the midst of a nationwide expansion. Arizona will be my first state on the west coast. Then we will be operating in-

Steve:
How did you choose Arizona, Angela?

Angela:
It’s as close as I could get to the west coast without having to take the bar in California, ultimately. I have no desire to take the bar again. This expansion will be through my getting license in multiple states and bringing on lawyers in other states and acquiring smaller Law Firms. It’s called a roll up expansion method. Acquiring smaller firms in states in which I’m not licensed and thereby overnight becoming licensed from adding on lawyers who are. Arizona though will be the first state, and that will be me. I will be licensed in Arizona. It’s been about six months in the works and should be happening any day. Then from there, we’re going to head more Midwest and do the Illinois area bringing on a lawyer down in Florida. By March 2022, we should be in about 12 states, if the expansion rolls out the way that I want. So yeah.

Steve:
Do you go bed at night going, I am really doing something.

Angela:
I go to bed at night exhausted, which is probably because I’m doing something. Yes, those two things go hand in hand. But yeah, I mean, I have a great team behind me, alongside me, with me, where I wouldn’t be able to do this without them, ultimately. There are a lot of buckets where we’re launching the podcast in the next month or so. YouTube channel, called The Gaily show, instead of The Daily show. It’ll be Gaily just as it sounds.

Steve:
When does this start?

Angela:
The YouTube channel, we’re still in the midst of figuring out the artwork and whatnot. The podcast will probably be in the next month, that will be through iHeart Media. We have some kinks to work out with iHeart Media still. Then the YouTube channel is really just based on us, because it doesn’t require anything other than us. But before I commit to doing something daily, literally every day, I want to make sure that we have all our I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Yes, I definitely go to bed and wake up every day with all of these things that we have going on.

Steve:
It’s so exciting. I guess, tell everybody about your firm. How long you’ve been practicing for and what made you get into this area of law. Just about your firm, so they understand who you are.

Angela:
Right. So the firm itself is Giampolo Law Group. We’re going on year 13 now, which ages myself. I remember when it was five years, then eight years, then crossed the double digit mark, which is always a big deal. Yeah, 13 years. I always thought that I wanted to practice international human rights law. That’s really what I started out doing, where I was published in human trafficking. I moved to Beijing and I got a Master’s of Law in Chinese law and worked in Beijing, predominantly on human trafficking. Then from there, I moved to Tanzania and worked at the War Crimes Tribunal for the Rwanda genocide.

Steve:
Wow. Wow.

Angela:
I am French Canadian originally. We remember in Quebec, the head of the peacekeeping mission for the Rwanda genocide was French Canadian. In 1994, we remember Black Hawk Down happened here in Somalia and Madeline Albright had no desire to send any more troops after losing eight American soldiers on the continent of Africa, through Black Hawk Down. She had no desire to potentially lose more. So as a French Canadian, as a [inaudible 00:08:29], I remember that unfolding. We were glued to our TVs, the way you guys were during Black Hawk Down. I always told myself if I were to become a lawyer, because I had a passion of becoming a lawyer, that I really wanted to work for the UN specifically on the war crimes tribunal for the Rwanda genocide. The beginning of my career was exactly what I had wanted it to be, which is, I was going to be an international human rights lawyer. I was accomplishing that. And I woke up one day in Iringa Tanzania and told myself I can’t do this day in and day out. Working in genocide and human trafficking.

Steve:
Oh my gosh.

Angela:
Day in and day out, it changes a person. I saw-

Steve:
You’ve got a big heart too. So that really-

Angela:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Working with the colleagues, my colleagues, every day and seeing how much of shells of human beings they were. You can’t do this work day in and day out and to your point, continue to wear your heart on your sleeve and in some way not become callous. I finished the case that I was working on ultimately, and then told them that I was done. I went traveling for a few months and ended up back in Philly. To make a long story even longer, ended up back in Philly with no job. Because I had taken this job over there and I had let go of any Philly specific jobs, because I was going to be an international human rights lawyer traveling the world. So here I am back in Philly and for seven months, just sort of meandering about completely devoid of any motivation. Have no idea of what it is that I wanted to do. So I’m sitting at a-

Steve:
Did you think about it? Did you think, what area of law do I want to go into?

Angela:
Nope. Nope. It was more so than an area of law I was worried or concerned or brainstorming around, what medium? Do I want to be at a large firm, a small firm, a mid-size firm, the government? I was more a nonprofit because I had just come back from the UN, which is an NGO. I wasn’t really thinking practice area so much as, what would I call home? Would I be at a large firm? Would I be at a mid-size firm? Would I work in Harrisburg? That’s mainly where I was thinking. So I met up with a gay couple, friends of mine, at a gay bar in the gayper hood.

Steve:
Makes sense.

Angela:
Yeah, as gay people do. So we’re sitting there having a martini and the one guy says, “So I met with one of your kind today.”

Steve:
One of your kind?

Angela:
One of my kind. I was like, “A lesbian? Why?” They’re like, “No, a lawyer.” I was like, “Oh my God, I’m sorry. Why would you do that?” He laughed and he’s like, “We…” This is 2008. Long before marriage equality. Long before we even thought it was an option. His partner is international, still is, but was here legally and had all chances of potentially getting a green card taken away. So he was just sort of stuck here. Couldn’t go home, but also couldn’t gain citizenship because he couldn’t get married, because he was gay. Just sort of stuck. They owned a business together. He said, “Since we can never get married and he’s stuck here illegally in this gray zone, immigration status, we’re doing our estate planning in order to recreate a marriage. We’re doing our corporate documents so that if anything were to happen to me, he’s my business partner, since he can’t ever be my husband.” So we sat-

Steve:
There’s no laws then on the books.

Angela:
None. Not even on the horizon. This is 2008. Not even on the horizon.

Steve:
Wow.

Angela:
We’re talking like this is never happening kind of thing. Not like when one day it does. The whole dinner ended up about being creative, legal strategies and my thoughts on how they could secure the 14 years of the life that they had spent together, knowing that the one would never be able to become a citizen and they’d never be able to get married. It dawned on me right then and there, after two hours of me creatively coming up with all of these things, I’m like, this is exactly what the LGBTQ community.

Angela:
From where we were sitting, I could actually see my first office. Giampolo Law Group was born right then and there. Even more so than that, one specific kicker, one of the big things that the light bulb went off in my brain was, they had just had their meeting that day. He said he wasn’t even comfortable with us being gay. I said, “What do you mean?” He was a corporate attorney, mainly estate planning came second.

Angela:
He said, “We walked in together and the guy was like, “Oh, is this your business partner?” At that point they weren’t. They were coming to form the business partnership in lieu of the marriage. So he said, “No.” He goes, “Oh a friend? So that you have two sets of ears?” He said, “No.” He said, “Oh, your brother?” He said, “No.” The guy kept going, guessing with what the relationship was. Then my friend said, “No, he’s my life partner.” The lawyer said, “oh, life.” the air quotes came up. If ever you say anything with air quotes, just know that whatever it is that you’re saying is probably derogatory or discriminatory in some way, shape or form. Air quotes came up, voice went down, “Oh, partner, partner.” I said-

Steve:
Look what it took for him to get all the information from him.

Angela:
Right. At least 15 minutes of awkwardness and whatnot. I said, “Oh, well, I know a few other corporate attorneys that would be much cooler if you want me to refer you to them. Because at this point I hadn’t opened up my firm. He said, “No, we already gave him a $5,000 retainer.” I was like, “You gave someone a $5,000 retainer that ultimately you had that awkwardness around? That’s when it dawned on me, wow, I can create a safe place for the LGBTQ community where from the point of reaching out to me and seeing an intake form, where the pronouns match how you identify to the relationship status. Matching what your relationship status is for just being welcomed, included and-

Steve:
What a comfort zone.

Angela:
Exactly. More so that again. More so than the practice area. At that point, it was wow, I can provide a safe place for the LGBTQ community. Then from there, I made up the practice area of LGBTQ law, which is all inclusive of other areas, but it fit the community.

Steve:
Were you involved at all in getting any of the laws changed in Pennsylvania?

Angela:
Yeah. Not specifically with the Whitewood case. Whitewood was a case that went up to the Pennsylvania Supreme court and Hangley Aronchick was the law firm on that. But in terms of just being an advocate within Pennsylvania, working with state rep Brian Sims, long before that lawsuit. You need the perfect set of circumstances to launch a lawsuit. Long before that set of circumstances came, I was working tirelessly with the Commonwealth, with state reps and even Bruce Hanes. People remember how everything unfolded. Bruce Hanes is the register of wills for Montgomery county. Before we had marriage equality, Bruce thought it was unfair. He is a self proclaimed White cisgendered, straight Jewish man from the suburbs. He didn’t even realize that we couldn’t get married. Here he is, the head of the agency that gives marriage licenses in all of Montgomery county.

Steve:
Wow.

Angela:
He didn’t know until the lesbian couple came up and they were older, they were in their ’70s. They didn’t realize that they couldn’t get a marriage license either, this lesbian couple. So they just showed up and tried to get married. Bruce didn’t understand why they couldn’t. Unbeknownst to him, he says, “You know what, I’m going to give you a marriage license anyways.” He goes, “If you come back tomorrow, I’m going to have a marriage license for you.” That wasn’t law. It wasn’t legal.

Steve:
Yes.

Angela:
That particular couple, I think, did not-

Steve:
It was just a piece of paper really, at the time.

Angela:
Well, he was bestowing the legal rights to it illegally.

Steve:
Oh, okay.

Angela:
Illegally. When marriage equality did pass, there were homophobic. There were people in Bruce’s same position in other states who were homophobic and didn’t believe we should get married and marriage equality became law and they refused to issue marriage licenses after it was legal. Bruce did the inverse where it wasn’t legal, but he was issuing marriage licenses. Neither are okay in the sense that it’s not following the rule of law.

Angela:
It wasn’t law, but Bruce said, “This isn’t fair, so I’m going to do it anyways.” Then it became law and then homophobic people said, “I don’t think this is right. This isn’t fair. I’m not going to issue marriage licenses.” So neither were right. Bruce was on the right side of history, on the wrong side of the law. As much as I love him and as much as I love what he did, he was on the wrong side of the law and on the right side of history.

Angela:
So what he did, he ended up on the Rachel Maddow show. Just Google D. Bruce Hanes, marriage licenses, Montgomery county, he issued 147. The lesbian couple who started it all, they were super shy. They didn’t realize they were about to start this whole thing. They ended up not coming back the next day. But word got out and eight couples showed up. Then 20 and then 60 and then 100. He issued 147 or 174.

Angela:
My dyslexia may be kicking in. But either one, he issued over 100 marriage licenses during about a week until he got sued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania saying, stand down, this isn’t legal. You’re not allowed to do this. Then the Whitewood case ultimately came down. There was about a two to three week time period where marriage was not legal in Pennsylvania, but Bruce was issuing them. I want to say 174 and those people had to get remarried again in Montgo because they were deemed not legal.

Steve:
Angela, we’re going to go to break. But before we go to break, and I have so many questions for you. But I think this is important because I just have this feeling someone’s out there that this show is going to touch. But how many couples come to your office that know their rights?

Angela:
Very, very few. They know what they don’t know.

Steve:
Yes.

Angela:
They know enough to know what they don’t know. Our first consultation is when I really educate them on what are their rights, what do they need to be concerned about? What do they not need to be concerned about? But they really come to me knowing that they don’t fully know everything, but they know that there is something to be educated about. That’s usually what our whole first meeting is around.

Steve:
Okay. Give everybody your phone number, Angela.

Angela:
Sure. 215-645-2415.

Steve:
We’re going to go to break. When we come back, we have more with attorney Angela Giampolo. We’ll be right back.

Speaker 4:
Giampolo Law Group is so passionate about estate planning they went so far as to trademark, where there’s a will, there’s a way. A properly structured trust will avoid putting your loved ones through the expensive lengthy and emotionally draining court probate process. Most important, you can prevent some or all of your assets from being subject to a state law upon your death, allowing more of your estate to be enjoyed by your loved ones. The marriage equality ruling drastically changed the legal landscape for LGBTQ couples and Giampolo Law Group is experienced with what those changes mean for estate planning. Giampolo Law Group can help you establish or reorganize your estate plan to address your concerns while accounting for the complexities in state and federal laws. The attorneys at Giampolo Law Group are experienced in assisting clients with estate planning, specifically in preparing or revising wills, trusts and the other ancillary documents, such as powers of attorney and hospital visitation forms. Contact Giampolo Law Group today for a complimentary consultation. 215-398-6579. Remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Speaker 1:
You are listening to The Ask the Expert show, sponsored by the Cardamone Law Firm for injured workers. Now here’s your host, Steve O and his expert guest.

Steve:
We are back. We are with local attorney, Angela Giampolo, and we are talking about LGBTQ law. I’ve got to tell you, I have so many questions, because Angela really concentrates a lot in family law and estate planning law. But I got to tell you Angela, that I’ve brought up several times about the football player for the Oakland Raiders who came out of the… I guess it’s okay, came out of the closet? Is that the term you use?

Speaker 1:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yep, he came out.

Steve:
I really felt bad for him, because he probably didn’t know all of his rights. He was probably afraid of losing his job. I said, there’s got to be a lot of people out there. They don’t have to be a football player and because you understand this. It’s like you said, it’s like a comfort zone coming in to sit down and talk to you. I keep saying, with as many laws that are on the books now that weren’t on the books before, that’s why I asked you, do people know what’s legal and what’s not legal? I just think this is what makes the show so wonderful in having you on. Because man, I’m always for the underdog. I don’t know if that’s the right terminology to use. But I really feel sorry for someone who has to keep something like that bottled inside of them and can’t be free to do what they want and talk about it and not have to worry. I think that’s what’s so great about your firm.

Speaker 1:
Yeah, I have a t-shirt, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog. I think that encapsulates the LGBTQ community down to a T. Because people fought long before me. For those watching via Zoom, I have Harvey Milk behind me there. Got Milk, who was assassinated for ultimately the fight that he fought in San Francisco city council in the ’70s. Harvey Milk was a huge proponent in everyone coming out. Even if it led to his assassination, which it did.

Speaker 1:
To live out, that if everyone, this is what he implored in the ’70s, that if everyone who was out stayed home from work. If every gay person just stayed home from work one day, we could shut down the economy. Because we would just stop working. That was his way of wanting to gain employment discrimination rights. We can be fired for being gay at work. What if we just stopped coming to work as a community?

Speaker 1:
There are power in numbers. One ant by itself can be squished. A million ants can carry a piece of wood. It’s that sort of mentality. I, at 41 years old, have mentors that I look up to in their ’80s and the fight that they fought. So really truly that statement about underdog and it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog, is something that I’ve always thought in terms of fighting for LGBTQ rights.

Speaker 1:
As far as coming out goes, it’s never easy. Doesn’t matter whether it was in the ’70s, ’90s, today, being a football player obviously, any professional sports as a man. If you look at the woman’s soccer team and Megan Rapino and everyone who is an out lesbian in female sports. I’m not going to say it’s not as hard, because for the individual who is coming out, there’s no comparison for what your personal experience is.

Speaker 1:
But from a societal standpoint, for the world looking in at a man in professional football coming out versus a lesbian soccer player and their willingness to accept it, or to deem it acceptable, societal norms are very different in how it acts on those individuals and clearly a NFL football player has harder societal norms coming at him. As far as knowing rights, even within the LGBTQ community, one of the articles I just recently wrote is on conversion therapy and banning conversion therapy for minors.

Speaker 1:
Being able to take a minor who’s 12 years old and tell him or her or them, that what they are feeling in terms of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, is wrong. That we’re going to convert that out of you. That it’s even something that can be converted, that can be changed. It inherently can’t be changed. The damage that is done to children trying to change that or pray away the gay. So we have laws in New Jersey and Washington state, California. Not many states have banned conversion therapy, but we’re working on doing it in more and more states. So yeah, from marriage equality to employment discrimination, to conversion therapy, there’s a lot out there to know, so they don’t have to know everything, but we’re here as a resource.

Steve:
I have a lot of questions for next week. I don’t know, something just said, hey, this is where you need to take the show this week. You might just get a phone call today at the office saying, hey, I heard your show and I want to come in and sit down with you. Give everybody your phone number.

Angela:
Sure. 215-645-2415.

Steve:
Your website?

Angela:
Yep. Is Giampololaw.com. My last name. You can go to my blog at Phillygaylawyer.com.

Steve:
Angela, I love you. Angela will be back with us next week.

Angela:
Love you Steve O.

Steve:
We have plenty of questions for next week. I’ll talk to you soon and we’re going to go to break, when we come back, we’ve got Michael Cardamone. We’ll be right back.

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