Are you receiving updates from the LGBT Law Section? 

If not, log into Texas Bar Connect and check your email preferences!


The 2015 Judge Black Award recipient is Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe


2015 Judge Black Award Recipient Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe

Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe, 45th Judicial District Court, San Antonio, is the 2015 recipient of the Judge Black Award.

In April 2014, more than a year before the Supreme Court of the United States issued their landmark ruling, Judge Nellermoe allowed a same-sex divorce case to proceed in her court, issuing a 5-page ruling finding that Texas state law and the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection guarantees and are therefore invalid.

Judge Nellermoe has served as judge of the 45th District Court since January 1, 2003. She is the Editor in Chief of the San Antonio Lawyer magazine and past president of the Bexar County Women's Bar Association. Both organizations have recognized her contributions by honoring her with the Belva Lockwood Outstanding Lawyer Award and the SABA President's Award for Outstanding Service to the Bar, respectively.

Click here for more information on the 2015 Judge Black Award recipient, Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe.

Judge Black Award

Judge Black Award

Family of Judge Black

Shown are Elizabeth Black Berry (daughter of the late Judge Norman W. Black) and Berte Black (widow of Judge Black), with Hon. Steve Kirkland (awardee), and Hon. Charles Spain (Section co-founder, past Chair, and awardee).

Given by the LGBT Law Section, formerly the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues Section, of the State Bar of Texas in memory of United States District Judge Norman W. Black to a past or present member of the State Bar of Texas for a signification contribution to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered legal issues.

The Award is named after the late Honorable Norman W. Black (1931-1997), judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Judge Black was the federal judiciary’s liaison to the State Bar board of directors, and he pointedly criticized the board of directors when on October 4, 1996 it denied the initial creation of the proposed Gay and Lesbian Issues Section.  The Texas Lawyer mentioned Judge Black’s criticism at the time.  See Janet Elliott, Bar Denies Gay Issues Section, TEX. LAW., Oct. 14, 1996, at 1 (“I’ve always learned a lot about my fellow members from these meetings. . . . Today’s the first time I wasn’t real proud.”).

The Bar Association for Human Rights of Greater Houston, the driving force behind the creation of the Section, recognized Judge Black at its April 8, 1997 annual meeting with a plaque for his role as an outspoken guardian of human rights. Judge Black told the BAHR members of his vocal criticism of the State Bar board of directors and explained that his deep personal commitment to human rights was kindled during his youth as a Jew growing up in segregated Houston, matured throughout his judicial career, and nurtured through his collegiality with individuals such as the Honorable John Brown, who served as chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit during the Civil Rights Era. Judge Black exhorted the BAHR members to continue the fight for an LGBT law section, concluding with the words of Winston Churchill, “Never give up.”

The State Bar board of directors voted on April 17, 1998 to approve the creation of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues Section.  Judge Black’s 1996 rebuke was again published in the Texas Lawyer days before the board meeting.  See Janet Elliott, Two New Bar Sections Garner Support, TEX. LAW., Apr. 13, 1998, at 1.

Judge Black’s family graciously gave the Section permission to name the Award after him, and it was first given in 2000.

Judge Black Award Recipients
  • 2015 Recipient Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe
    2015 Recipient Hon. Barbara Hanson Nellermoe
  • 2014 Recipient Suzanne Bryant
    2014 Recipient Suzanne Bryant
  • 2013 Recipient Cece Cox
    2013 Recipient Cece Cox
  • 2012 Recipient Connie Moore
    2012 Recipient Connie Moore
  • 2011 Recipient Judge Charles Spain

    2011 Recipient Judge Charles Spain
Past Recipients

2015 Judge Barbara Hanson Nellermoe
2014  Suzanne Bryant
2013 Cece Cox 
2012  Connie Moore 
2011  Judge Charles Spain
2010  Judge Jerry L. Buchmeyer*
2009 Judge Steven E. Kirkland 
2008  Ken Upton 
2007 John Nechman
2006  Jerry W. Simoneaux, Jr.
2005  Hon. John P. Loza
2003  Roger S. Donley,
  Matthew P. Eastus, 
  Mitchell Katine, 
  Claire Swift Kugler, 
  Rebecca Robertson, 
  Stephen G. Tipps, and 
  Scott F. Wendorf 
2002  Phyllis R. Frye
2001  Hon. Debra Danburg, and
  Hon. Senfronia Thompson
2000  Chief Justice Jimmy Carroll, and
  Judge Paul R. Davis, Jr. 

* The Section gave its highest award (the Judge Norman W. Black award) posthumously to United States District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer for his significant contributions to LGBT legal issues and, in particular, his ruling in Baker v. Wade, at our annual meeting in Fort Worth. His daughter and Section member Pamela Buchmeyer accepted the award on behalf of her father and family. If you were present, you heard her regaling us with heartwarming stories about her father and his devotion to Civil Rights including his admonishment of the then-State Bar Board after it denied our section's recognition in 1997.