Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

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active cases

Pending (New Mexico)

Griego v. Oliver
On March 21, 2013, NCLR, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Mexico, and Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard, filed a lawsuit on behalf of two New Mexico couples seeking the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in the state. The couples are Rose Griego and Kim Kiel, and Miriam Rand and Ona Porter.

 

Victory! (California)

Nancy C. v. Alameda County Fire Department
Nancy C. is an emergency dispatcher with the Alameda County Fire Department. Nancy and her wife, a Canadian citizen, were married in Canada in October 2009. When Nancy learned about the passage of SB 54, the new California law requiring the state government to grant all the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples who get married in other states or countries any time after November 5, 2008, she asked her employer to add her wife as a beneficiary on her health and retirement plans.

 

Victory! (District of Columbia)

Jackson v. D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics
NCLR is a member of the Campaign for All D.C. Families, a diverse coalition working to achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia. Since July 6, 2009, D.C. recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. On December 15, 2009, the D.C. City Council passed “The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” which permits same-sex couples to marry.

 

Victory! (California)

In re Marriage Cases
NCLR was lead counsel on behalf of same-sex couples, Equality California, and Our Family Coalition in In re Marriage Cases, the marriage equality case decided favorably by the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008.

 

Victory! (Connecticut)

Kerrigan & Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot exclude same-sex couples from marriage. The Court held that preventing same-sex couples from marrying is unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court also held that the state’s civil union system for same-sex couples was inherently unequal because civil unions do not provide the same dignity, stature, and respect as marriage.

 

Victory! (U.S. District Court)

Perry v. Schwarzenegger
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.

The NCLR, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case on June 26, supporting the argument that Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution.

 

Pending (Cherokee Nation)

Reynolds & McKinley
NCLR represents Kathy Reynolds and Dawn McKinley, a same-sex couple who are members of the Cherokee Nation. In May 2004, Reynolds and McKinley obtained a marriage certificate from the Cherokee Nation and married shortly thereafter. The next month, another member of the Cherokee Nation filed a petition seeking to invalidate Reynolds and McKinley’s marriage. NCLR successfully defended Reynolds and McKinley before the Cherokee high court. Two days later, various members of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council filed a new action seeking to invalidate Reynolds and McKinley’s marriage. In December 2005, the high court dismissed this second challenge to their marriage.

 

Partial Loss (California)

Strauss v. Horton (Prop 8 Legal Challenge)
On November 5, 2008, NCLR, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, the Law Office of David C. Codell, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8. Our petition argued that Proposition 8 is invalid because the California Constitution does not permit the constitutional rights of a minority to be stripped away by a simple majority vote.

 

Victory! (Iowa)

Varnum v. Brien
On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the 1998 state ban on marriage for same-sex couples.


closed cases

Denial (California)

Bennett v. Bowen
A number of legal organizations filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court to remove Proposition 8 from the November ballot. Proposition 8 was a measure to change the California Constitution to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples. The lawsuit argued that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not follow the appropriate rules for revising the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court denied the petition to remove Proposition 8 from the ballot prior to the election.

 

Victory! (California)

Bowler v. Lockyer
The anti-gay group Campaign for California Families (CCF) submitted a proposed initiative to amend the California Constitution to permanently exclude same-sex couples from the right to marry and to eliminate the rights and responsibilities provided to registered domestic partners. After the Attorney General issued its description of the proposed initiative and its effect, CCF filed a lawsuit challenging the Attorney General's description.

 

Loss (Florida)

Florida Anti-Gay Ballot Initiative
NCLR, the ACLU, and Equality Florida challenged a proposed anti-gay voter initiative in the Florida Supreme Court. The measure, if passed, would block recognition of marriage and jeopardize the current domestic partner protections.

 

Loss (Illinois)

In re Marriage of S.
NCLR assisted S., a transgender father in Chicago. S. has lived his entire adult life as a male and has undergone medical treatment for sex-reassignment. He and his wife had a child together in 1992 through alternative insemination. When S. filed for divorce in 1998, his wife counter-petitioned to have their marriage declared void and to terminate S.'s parental rights.

 

Victory! (Florida)

Kantaras v. Kantaras
In June 2005, love, patience, and persistence, combined with a visionary judge and a little help from Dr. Phil, led to an historic settlement agreement between NCLR client Michael Kantaras and his former wife. Michael, a transsexual father, has been fighting for almost seven years to retain his parental rights to his two children, aged 16 and 13.

 

Victory! (New Jersey)

Lewis v. Harris
In June 2002, seven same-sex couples filed suit alleging that New Jersey’s marriage law violated the New Jersey Constitution’s guarantees of equality and liberty. In a unanimous ruling on October 25, 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates their right to equality under the New Jersey Constitution.

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