Lesbian attorney Amelia Craig Cramer, chief deputy attorney for Pima County, which includes Tucson, became president of the 16,900-member State Bar of Arizona on Friday, June 22, making her the first openly gay head of the organization.
The State Bar operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. It provides education and development programs for the legal profession as well as investigates ethics related complaints against lawyers, according to bar spokesperson Alberto Rodriguez.
Cramer was born in California and raised in Arizona after movng there with her parents as a child. She has practiced law in Washington, D.C., California, and Massachusetts before returning to Arizona in the 1990s with her wife and daughter to continue her legal career and care for her ill father in what she considers her home state.
While in California she served as managing attorney for the Western Regional Office of the gay litigation group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in Los Angeles.
During her residence in Massachusetts, Cramer served as executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), an LGBT rights litigation group in Boston.
Gay Republican activist and former Arizona State Rep. Steve May called Cramer “a leader in the LGBT community in Pima County” since the 1990s. May said she advocated, among other things, for repeal of the state’s sodomy law and lobbied for state legislation banning discrimination against LGBT Arizonans.
“She’s a very well respected attorney in the state,” May said,
Jonathan Davidson, head attorney for Lambda Legal’s Los Angeles office, said that while Cramer has special knowledge in the area of LGBT rights law, she is a highly regarded attorney in other areas of law.
“This is an important development,” he said. “Arizona remains a conservative state. It’s a sign of progress.”
Arizona Bar spokesperson Rodriguez said bar members and leaders elected Cramer to leadership positions over the past three years with the intention of putting her on a track to advance to the presidency of the organization. For the past year, Rodriguez said, she held the position of president-elect.