SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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For Immediate Release

October 11, 2011

SAGE Mourns the Passing of LGBT Leader and Activist Paula L. Ettelbrick

[New York, NY] Paula L. Ettelbrick, a lifelong advocate for LGBT people, passed away on Friday, October 7 after a courageous battle with cancer. As an attorney, professor and leader in the LGBT, feminist and progressive movements for decades, Paula will be remembered for her pioneering work to advance LGBT civil rights and transform the landscape for LGBT people in the United States and around the globe.

"I had the honor to have been a close friend of Paula's for more than 25 years. I first met her when I was co-chair of the board of Lambda Legal and Paula was hired as Lambda's first staff attorney," said Judith Turkel, Co-Chair of SAGE's Board of Directors. "I will miss her wisdom, her warmth, her deep passion for justice and her wonderful sense of humor. The LGBT and progressive communities and movements have lost a true hero and one of our greatest advocates. For Paula, being honored by SAGE with the Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award meant a great deal. While she will not be with us to accept this award, I am proud that we will honor her memory and her legacy so that her work will live on."

Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE, said, "I was deeply saddened when I learned that Paula had passed away after a courageous battle over the past year. She was a beloved leader, activist and friend, and her spirit and determination over the past year came as no surprise. For years she was a tireless crusader for our community, and the legacy of her extraordinary life of accomplishment is a more equitable world for all LGBT people."

Paula's life and career demonstrated her deep commitment to fighting for the rights, health and well-being of LGBT people. She served as the first staff attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and then as Legal Director, making Lambda Legal a national leader in LGBT legal advocacy. As Family Policy Director for the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Paula launched the first nationwide public education campaign encouraging same-sex couples to self-report on the 2000 U.S. census, arguing, "Our families exist and must be counted." She also served as Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, where she led the organization's work to challenge human rights abuses and discrimination worldwide and advocate for global policies and laws that respect the rights of LGBT people everywhere.

Paula also held leadership positions with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Empire State Pride Agenda, and most recently, as Executive Director of the Stonewall Community Foundation. In addition, she taught courses on sexuality and the law, and marital and non-marital family structures, at the University of Michigan, New York University, Columbia University, and Wayne State law schools.

In 2010, Paula worked with SAGE as the interim director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, guiding the Resource Center's work in its early months. This fall, SAGE announced that Paula would receive the Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented to her family at the 16th Annual SAGE Awards & Gala on October 24 in New York City. Paula is survived by her partner Marianne Haggerty, her former partner Suzanne Goldberg, their children Adam and Julia, Suzanne's partner Mary Lou Kelly, Paula's sister Linda Anderes, brother Robert Ettelbrick, Jr., and many, many loving friends.

SAGE is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people. SAGE also offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at

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