by Pamela Jones
Sacramento attorney, activist, volunteer, and author Rosemary Metrailer was honored by SacLEGAL, Sacramento’s LGBT Bar Association, at its Fifth Annual Founders’ Award Reception. The event was held at the urban, contemporary offices of Uptown Studios on 23rd Street in Sacramento.
Metrailer’s work and activism are legendary in Sacramento. She formed the first all-female law firm in town, Metrailer & Langenkamp. In the early 1980s Metrailer represented Reverend Jerry Sloan of Sacramento’s Metropolitan Community Church who brought a breach of contract action against Reverend Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority. Falwell failed to pay $5,000 to Sloan, which he had promised if Sloan could prove that Falwell made derogatory, hurtful, and inflammatory remarks about persons who are gay. Metrailer prevailed, and the suit resulted in an award that was used as the initial funding for the Lambda Community Center, now the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.
During her remarks Metrailer recalled the early days of her practice when she had to persuade the bailiff that she was an attorney, and not a secretary, before being allowed to enter a judge’s chambers. Metrailer acknowledged the dramatic changes that have occurred since she began practicing in the 1970s, but expressed concern that even today persons in the LGBT community are faced with threats to equality. Her call to action was to remain vigilant and to speak up whenever we witness an abuse of authority, a lie, or a derogatory and predatory act by anyone.
Metrailer was introduced by her mentor who is another Sacramento icon, Phil Isenberg. Isenberg served as mayor of Sacramento from 1975 to 1982, and California Assembly member from 1982 to 1996. He currently serves on the board of the Public Policy Institute of California.