Crime & Law,
Public Interest Law
Mission: The lambda legal defense and education fund, inc. Is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with hiv through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
Programs: Legal programlambda legal's lgbt and hiv law reform, policy, and education work encompasses a wide range of areas, including federal and state constitutional law issues; relationship protections, including the freedom to marry; discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and hiv in employment, benefits, education, housing, insurance, public accommodations, foster care, and criminal and juvenile justice systems; child custody, visitation and adoption issues; access to healthcare; the rights of specific vulnerable populations such as lgbt youth in schools and seniors; privacy; immigration rights including asylum; and comprehensive protections against harassment and violence. Lambda legal has been involved in many landmark civil rights cases, including as the litigators who won the u. S. Supreme court decision in lawrence v. Texas (striking down all remaining state sodomy laws in the nation), and as co-counsel in the supreme court case romer v. Evans (finding initiatives barring sexual orientation anti-discrimination protections unconstitutional). We have also won landmark victories in glenn v. Brumby (affirming that discrimination against transgender people in public employment is unconstitutional); nabozny v. Podlesny (establishing right of lesbian, gay and bisexual students to be provided the same constitutional protections against harassment and violence at school as heterosexual youth receive); and numerous cases across the country winning the freedom to marry for same-sex couples . At any given time during 2014, lambda legal was active in more than 70 high-impact legal matters. We also responded to more than 7,500 callers to our legal help desk with information, materials and other forms of assistance, and assisted in public policy initiatives at the federal, state and local levels. Among other successes in 2014, we achieved victories in marriage equality cases in arizona, indiana, nevada, south carolina, virginia and west virginia. The indiana, nevada and virginia cases led to appellate court decisions that brought marriage to multiple states, extending our impact across the country, and we filed new marriage challenges in georgia and puerto rico. We won survivor benefits from the social security administration for a 92-year-old transgender woman denied benefits after her husband's death, and filed additional suits against ssa and the secretary of veterans affairs arguing that denying benefits to same-sex spouses living in states that refuse to recognize their marriages fails to comport with the supreme court's decision striking down the so-called defense of marriage act. In the alaska supreme court we won worker's compensation survivor benefits for the same-sex partner of a woman shot and killed at her job. We helped obtain a path-breaking ruling from the district court for the district of columbia that discriminating against a gay employee because of religious disapproval of the man's attraction to other men violates federal law barring both sex and religious discrimination. We entered a lawsuit filed by the equal employment opportunity commission representing our client fired from his job as a machine operator in georgia because he is living with hiv, and we convinced the applebees restaurant chain to provide married lgbt employees spousal health insurance available to other married employees. For all people living with hiv in louisiana entitled to federal ryan white payment of their insurance premiums, we secured the ongoing ability to get and keep their insurance. We helped win a landmark appellate federal circuit ruling that people cannot be rejected from jury service based on their sexual orientation and that courts must give heightened judicial scrutiny to government discrimination based on sexual orientation. We won an appellate ruling that a florida second-parent adoption could not be challenged by the birth mother who helped obtain it for her former partner. We helped secure a positive ruling from the new hampshire supreme court in a battle between a biological mother and her former partner that lets the former partner seek custody and visitation of the child the couple planned for together and jointly welcomed into their home. We got the division of child and family services of the nevada department of health to amend regulations that listed hiv as a communicable disease disqualifying a foster parent. We won reversal of dismissal of a virginia boy's suit based on harassment by his classmates for being gender-nonconforming, and we successfully settled our florida schools case to change school policies that punished our client for participating in the "day of silence. " we also assisted in obtaining a federal appellate victory upholding new jersey's law barring "sexual orientation change efforts" on young people. We convinced the iowa supreme court to overturn the criminal conviction of a man living with hiv who had protected sex with another man. We stopped an illinois half-way house from interfering with a transgender resident's expression of her gender identity, and we filed a case challenging the failure by texas prison officials to protect our transgender client in a men's facility from sexual offenses and a knife attack.
education & public affairs programlambda legal's education & public affairs program provides communications and community education about legal issues affecting lgbt people and people with hiv. We report and explain the purpose and results of our work; teach people about their rights under the law; amplify the voices of our experts and of affected communities through a variety of media and high-impact education campaigns; participate in coalitions and forge strategic partnerships with allies and policy makers. For example, in 2014 we launched our third new digital, mobile-friendly information center on our website: "know your rights workplace" and also published all three of our "know your rights" sections (about the rights of lgbtq youth, transgender people and workplace rights) in spanish. We conducted 22 training sessions for service providers in the texas child protective services department to increase their competency in respecting the needs and rights of lgbtq youth. We collaborated with other organizations to advance fair and comprehensive immigration policies for all, including lgbt immigrants and immigrants living with hiv, and we implemented an education and advocacy campaign to promote nondiscriminatory conduct by police and other criminal justice institutions. Our communications activities include publication three times per year of impact magazine, which is distributed to 40,000 people across the country; the magazine contains information about our legal work, our clients and the impact of our work strengthening civil rights. In addition, we publish toolkits and fact sheets that are available free-of-charge and help people understand their rights and how to protect themselves against discrimination. We distributed approximately 21,000 educational booklets and fact sheets in 2014, and hundreds of thousands of people viewed or downloaded educational information from our website. Lambda legal's communications include a website that provides comprehensive information about legal cases and the law and draws approximately 2,800 visitors per day and over 1 million per year; regular educational emails that reach more than 80,000 people; and information about legal matters that we post on social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, and youtube, reaching approximately 300,000 followers and subscribers. Our public information officers keep journalists and the general public informed with timely, accurate information about the law and civil rights, and we make our attorneys and other experts available as spokespeople for local and national print, online, and broadcast news and public affairs programs. Print and online news stories about lambda legal's work or with quotes from our legal experts appeared approximately 15,400 times in 2014. Lambda legal's attorneys and educators help people understand their rights and how to use them, and also help communities join together to promote equality for lgbt people and people with hiv. We offer workshops and presentations free-of-charge at community centers, schools and businesses, events and conferences. In 2014, our community educators provided over 160 such presentations, in addition to providing information at 32 lgbt pride festivals across the country. Our expert attorneys also spoke at dozens of conferences, teleconferences and events throughout the country.