news & opinion

Press Release

NCLR, ACLU Welcome New Mexico Supreme Court Order Setting Hearing on Freedom to Marry for Same-sex Couples Statewide
09.06.13 (Albuquerque, NM, September 6, 2013)—Today, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an order setting a hearing for October 23, 2013 to consider a request by the New Mexico Association of Counties that the court immediately decide whether New Mexico law permits same-sex couples to marry. All 33 county clerks in the state joined in the Association’s request that the Supreme Court resolve the issue.

Press Release

NCLR Launches Campaign Calling on Top Companies Doing Business in Russia to Urge Repeal of Extreme Anti-LGBT Laws
09.05.13 (San Francisco, CA, September 5, 2013)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced the launch of a campaign—"Stop LGBT Hate in Russia"—calling on global companies doing business in Russia to demand the repeal of new laws that target and hurt lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and allies.

Press Release

Federal Appeals Court Allows Enforcement of California Law Prohibiting Dangerous Psychological Practices to Change Minors’ Sexual Orientation
08.29.13 (San Francisco, CA, August 29, 2013)—Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a 2012 California law prohibiting licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of a patient under 18 years old may be enforced by state licensing officials. The ruling states that the plaintiffs in two legal challenges to the law cannot succeed on their claim that the law infringes the free speech rights of therapists who wish to engage in these dangerous and long-discredited practices.

Press Release

New Mexico Judge Orders Bernalillo and Santa Fe County Clerks to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples
08.26.13 (Albuquerque, NM, August 26, 2013)—Today, Judge Alan Malott of the Second Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico ordered the county clerks of Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ruling in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and local attorneys on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in New Mexico, Judge Malott said that denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage violates the New Mexico Constitution. The court issued a judgment against the two county clerks and the State of New Mexico declaring that, to the extent New Mexico law prevents same-sex couples from marrying, “those prohibitions are unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Press Release

New Mexico Woman Suffering from Life-Threatening Brain Cancer Asks Court to Let Her Marry Her Partner of 21 Years
08.21.13 (Santa Fe, NM, August 21, 2013)—Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, the national ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed an emergency request with New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court to allow a Pojoaque same-sex couple, Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, to legally marry immediately because Jen suffers from a severe medical condition that may prove fatal in the near future. Jen suffers from a life-threatening form of brain cancer, and her health has deteriorated severely in the past few months. Today’s request seeks an emergency order from the court that would allow the couple to marry so that Angelique and their three children will be legally protected should Jen pass away.

Press Release

Governor Brown Signs Historic Transgender Student Bill into Law
08.12.13 (San Francisco, CA, August 12, 2013)—Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring that transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266—which goes into effect on January 1, 2014—was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country. It requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can have equal access to all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities.

Press Release

Federal Court Rules That Widow Is Entitled to Survivor Benefits From Deceased Wife’s Employer Plan
7.03.13 (Philadelphia, July 29, 2013)—Late Today, Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered payment of death benefits to Jennifer Tobits, the widow of Sarah Ellyn Farley, under a profit-sharing plan administered by Farley’s employer, the law firm Cozen O’Conner P.C. The court held that because the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was recently struck down as unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, federally-regulated retirement and benefit plans must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of spousal benefits such as those due to Tobits.

Press Release

Federal Government Resolves Complaint Filed by CA Transgender Student
7.24.13 (San Francisco, CA, July 24, 2013)—Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced a resolution to a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of a transgender student in California’s Arcadia Unified School District. The resolution requires the school district to treat the student as male in all respects and keep his transgender status private.

Press Release

Nation’s Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Reject Efforts by House GOP to Play Politics and Leave Millions of Immigrants Behind with KIDS Act
7.23.13 (San Francisco, CA, July 23, 2013)— This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives will meet to discuss the so-called KIDS Act, a piece of craven political theater that threatens to tear apart immigrant families. Singling out some immigrant youth for a path to citizenship while subjecting their families to constant fear of deportation is as senseless as it is out of step with the American public. It’s time to stop playing politics with people’s lives.


LGBT Rights Organizations Issue Open Letter: Trayvon Deserves Justice
7.15.13 WASHINGTON, DC— A coalition of national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations including Transgender Law Center, led by the National Black Justice Coalition and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, today issued the following open letter:

We cannot begin to imagine the continued pain and suffering endured by Trayvon Martin’s family and friends. We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to fight for justice, civil rights and closure. And we thank everyone who has pushed and will continue to push for justice.

Press Release

Agreement Reached in Lawsuit Against Indianapolis Public Schools For Failing to Protect Gay Student
7.10.13 (Indianapolis, IN, July 9, 2013)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Waples & Hanger announced an agreement resolving a lawsuit against the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) filed by Dynasty Young, a former student who sued the district after officials failed to address relentless harassment he experienced at school because he is gay and does not conform to gender stereotypes.

Press Release

CA Senate Passes Bill Supporting Transgender Student Success
7.05.13 (Sacramento, CA, July 3, 2013)—Today, the California State Senate passed the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266), sending the bill that ensures transgender students have the opportunity to succeed in school to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, the bill passed the Senate with a 21-9 vote (unofficial). The bill passed the California State Assembly last month with 46-25 vote.

Press Release

Same-Sex Couples Ask New Mexico Supreme Court to Protect Their Right to Marry
7.03.13 (Albuquerque, NM, July 3, 2013)—Late Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, ACLU national, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer & Brown PC, and Albuquerque attorneys Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard, and Lynn Perls filed a writ of mandamus with the New Mexico State Supreme Court seeking a ruling on the issue of whether same-sex couples can marry in the State of New Mexico. The writ also asks the court to clarify that New Mexico respects the marriages of same-sex New Mexico couples who married in another state, which is necessary to ensure that those couples qualify for all of the federal programs that are now available to married same-sex couples as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision last week invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).


case updates and program highlights

Victory!(Illinois, Pennsylvania)

Cozen O'Connor, P.C. v. Jennifer J. Tobits, et al. and Estate of Sarah Ellyn Farley
Jennifer Tobits and Sarah Ellyn Farley married in Toronto in 2006. Two weeks after their wedding, Ellyn was diagnosed with cancer. The Chicago couple fought the disease together for their entire marriage, until Ellyn passed away in September 2010. Because Ellyn’s parents had never accepted her marriage to Jennifer, they feared that Ellyn’s parents would make legal claims to their property and generally attack Jennifer’s status as Ellyn’s spouse.

Pending (California)

Pickup et al. v. Brown et al.
and Welch et al. v. Brown et al.

On September 29, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the first law in the nation prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of a patient under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide. NCLR and Equality California, the state’s leading LGBT political organization, were the primary organizational sponsors of the law, which was authored by Senator Ted Lieu.

Victory! (Indiana)

Young v. IPS
Dynasty Young is a seventeen-year-old openly gay young man. Just before the beginning of his junior year of high school, he moved to Indianapolis and enrolled in Arsenal Technical High School. From the first day of school, Dynasty was subjected to relentless, severe harassment and abuse by his peers because he was perceived as gay and gender non-conforming and because he sometimes dressed in clothes and accessories such as knee-high boots, rings, and bangles, and carried a purse.

Victory! (California)

Hollingsworth v. Perry 
On May 22, 2009, two same-sex couples filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging California’s Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to prohibit marriage by same-sex couples.

Victory! (U.S. Supreme Court)

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez
Like many public schools, the University of California - Hastings College of the Law allows law students to organize student groups that can apply for university funding and other resources for group-related events. To be recognized as an official student group, all student groups must abide by Hastings' policy on nondiscrimination. In 2004, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) filed a lawsuit against Hastings, arguing that the nondiscrimination policy violated the group's First Amendment right to discriminate against LGBT and non-Christian students. NCLR represents Outlaw, the LGBT student group at Hastings, which intervened to defend the University's policy. Hastings is represented by Ethan Schulman of Crowell & Moring LLP.

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