In 2015, following more than ten years as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, National LGBT Bar Association member Judge Mike Jacobs began serving on the State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia. “Nearly all of my years as a lawyer have been devoted to public service,” he says. Judge Jacobs ran unopposed for re-election to the bench in 2016.
Judge Jacobs recently made headlines when he came out as the first openly bisexual judge in the nation. At the time, he did not know that he was the first American out bisexual judge, but now he hopes to provide inspiration and a touchpoint to other LGBT people, especially through legal organizations like the LGBT Bar.
When asked more about his decision to come out, Judge Jacobs points to last October when he attended the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia’s annual awards dinner. “At that point,” he says, “I was in the process of being able to understand and acknowledge that I am bi, but I wasn’t out. It felt strange to be on the outside looking in. I belonged there, but I had not yet articulated why, which can be a difficult thing for bi people to do in the first place.”
One of Judge Jacobs’ main reasons for coming out was a desire to be more active in LGBT legal organizations. He first heard of the LGBT Bar through the International Association of LGBT Judges, of which he is also an active member. With the opportunities connected to the LGBT Bar, the International Association of LGBT Judges, and the Stonewall Bar Association, Judge Jacobs hopes to serve as a role model within the bisexual and legal communities. “I am able to be a positive role model, and I want to be just that,” he says. “I see LGBTQ citizens in my courtroom on a regular basis, and while my identity has absolutely no bearing on how I decide cases, being out does help show our community the diversity that exists on our bench.”
Judge Jacobs is excited to attend the 30th Annual Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair, which he considers a good place to become more deeply connected with the LGBT legal community. “I’m looking forward to serving on the panel for Pathways to the Judiciary,” he states. “I’ve been in public service for more than 13 years, run for election seven times, and participated in a judicial appointment process. I’m always happy to share those experiences with anyone who is interested. I’m also excited about attending my very first BiLaw Caucus.”
For Judge Jacobs, membership with the LGBT Bar and attending the 30th Annual Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair mark the beginning of his involvement in LGBT legal spaces – and most definitely not the end. “From here forward, I will always be an active member of the National LGBT Bar Association and the International Association of LGBT Judges, and you should expect to see me at the Lavender Law and IALGBTJ conferences for many years to come.”
The LGBT Bar is proud and excited to count Judge Jacobs amongst our members, and look forward to seeing him at Lavender Law!