Photography by Ryan Pfluger in Brooklyn on September 10, 2015. Hair and Makeup: Angela DiCarlo.
Chai Feldblum has been commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010, but 2015 was a red-letter year, the culmination of decades of advocacy for the law professor and former clerk to Supreme Court associate justice Harry Blackmun (to whom she came out in the early 1990s). This summer, in a landmark ruling in Baldwin v. Foxx, the EEOC skillfully applied the 1964 Civil Rights Act to a case of discrimination against a gay federal employee. When the EEOC speaks, employers, human resource directors, and judges listen — and that could have a big impact on the 28 states without employment protections for LGBTs. “We’ve always known we are full members of society, but everyone else has had to catch up,” says Feldblum. “This year they’re starting to.”