Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit in Louisiana to force Blue Cross Blue Shield and other insurers in the state to accept payments from the federally funded AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.
A groundbreaking publication that provides hospitals guidance on the best practices for transgender patients is now available.
LGBTQ youth are at much higher risk of finding themselves in out-of-home settings, often due to family rejection and other stresses. Among homeless youth, 20-40% identify as LGBTQ and 19% of all transgender youth have been homeless at some point in their lives.
This section is dedicated to helping foster parents and child welfare professionals become more knowledgeable about caring for and working with LGBTQ youth. For more information, download Lambda Legal’s toolkit, Getting Down to Basics.
The “Know Your Rights: Transgender” online hub provides comprehensive information about laws and policies at the state and federal level that protect transgender people. This mobile-friendly hub is a comprehensive tool for transgender people and includes legal and advocacy guidance on an array of issues: identity documents, transgender workplace rights, restroom access rights, health care, transgender youth, transgender seniors, transgender parents, and fighting anti-transgender violence. This is the second “Know Your Rights” hub Lambda Legal has launched in the past year joining “Know Your Rights: Youth.” The organization is planning additional “Know Your Rights” hubs in the coming year.
Check out Lambda Legal’s Know Your Rights Transgender resource page: http://www.lambdalegal.org/kyr/trans
Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois said Tuesday they plan to file a motion for summary judgment, asking for a swift ruling in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Alec Esquivel is a law school graduate who is clerking for the Oregon Court of Appeals. Assigned female sex at birth, he was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in 2001 and began to take steps to have his body match his male gender identity. In 2010, as part of his transition-related health plan, Alec sought insurance coverage for a hysterectomy, a procedure that routinely is covered for other employees under the state’s health plan. Esquivel’s doctor then submitted a request for insurance coverage. On June 21, 2010, Esquivel was denied based on the plan’s categorical exclusion of transition-related health care, a violation of Oregon’s antidiscrimination guarantees.
Lambda Legal’s lawsuit seeks recognition that denying a public employee the same coverage that others receive because of the employee’s gender identity violates Oregon’s Equality Act and its guarantees of equal treatment in the workplace regardless of gender identity.
Click the header link above to read the full article.
Karen Golinski (left) and her wife, Amy Cunninghis
On Friday in San Francisco, the Justice Department will make its first court appearance in a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act since the Obama administration declared in February that the 1996 law is unconstitutional.
Click the link above to read the full article.
Lambda Legal always welcomes resumes from experienced attorneys who are interested in employment in any of our offices nationwide. Please send resumes to Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director, 120 Wall Street, Suite 1500, New York, NY 10005.
Lambda Legal Disappointed In Ohio Supreme Court Ruling Against Lesbian Mother in Long-Disputed Custody Case
“This decision is a tragedy for the child…the court disregarded the overwhelming evidence that Ms. Mullen agreed to parent Lucy with Ms. Hobbs ‘in every way.’”
Today, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against Michelle Hobbs, a lesbian mother who sought custody of her child in a case disputed since December 2007. Today, a closely-divided court ruled 4 to 3 in favor of the claim by Ms. Mullen, the biological mother, that Ms. Hobbs has no parental rights and responsibilities for the daughter they jointly raised from birth.
"This decision is a tragedy for the child, above all else," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. "The court disregarded the overwhelming evidence that Ms. Mullen agreed to parent Lucy with Ms. Hobbs ‘in every way.’ Regrettably, the decision severs a parent-child relationship between Lucy and the person she knows to be her mother. All Ohio families should be alarmed by this, as a child with a non-biological parent could be taken from their mom or dad in the event of a separation."
Michelle Hobbs and Kelly Mullen were in a committed relationship for five years and decided to have a child together. When their relationship ended, Mullen, the biological mother, denied Hobbs any contact with her daughter. A motion by Hobbs for joint custody was granted by a magistrate judge, overturned by a juvenile court, and an appellate court upheld the reversal. In February 2011, the Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.
"The majority’s decision today is the last step in this saga, and sadly, the best interests of Lucy will never have been considered at any level. Instead, Mullen’s self-interest will be the sole determining factor," said Hon. Justice Paul Pfeifer in his dissenting opinion. "Besides Hobbs and Lucy, common decency is another victim in this case. Mullen was able to use the law as a weapon because same-sex coparents lack legal rights."
For more information about this case, In the matter of L.K.M., see Lambda Legal’s case page.
Contact: Erik Roldan; 312-663-4413 x359; firstname.lastname@example.org
After the Department of Justice announced that it will no longer defend the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” in court, Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Legal Director Jon Davidson:
"This is a monumental turning point in the history of the quest for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The President and the Attorney General recognized today what we have been saying in court since the day we opened our doors: Discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation should be presumed to be unconstitutional and unconstitutional laws should not be defended. It is past time for DOMA to become only an ugly part of our nation’s history.
"We are proud of our part in the precedent setting cases leading to today’s announcement. Both Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas are landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases litigated by Lambda Legal that established among other things that the equal protection guarantee in the federal Constitutional applies to gay people. The Attorney General expressly relied on these cases in his letter to Congress explaining why laws discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation are suspect and that the so-called DOMA is unconstitutional.
"While the so-called DOMA is very clearly crumbling it is not yet gone. The executive branch will continue to enforce it until it is repealed by Congress or struck down by the courts. We will continue our efforts to dismantle this law, along with all other laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. Today’s action by the President and the Department of Justice hastens the day when those laws will no longer stain our nation."
Lambda Legal has reached a settlement with the Gary, Ind., school district, in the case of a transgender student who was barred from attending prom in a dress in 2006, and the district has adopted LGBT-inclusive policies as part of it.
K.K. Logan, who at the time identified as a feminine male and now identifies as female, was physically blocked by the school principal from entering the West Side High School senior prom in May 2006. The principal was enforcing a school policy forbidding the wearing of clothing or accessories that “advertise sexual orientation” or “portray the wearer as a person of the opposite gender,” although a female student was allowed to attend wearing a tuxedo, according to Lambda.
Lambda sued on Logan’s behalf in 2007, contending that the policy violated First Amendment guarantees of freedom of expression and that barring Logan from the prom constituted gender discrimination. The settlement, which Lambda announced Friday, provides for monetary compensation to Logan, with the amount not made public, and includes changes to Gary public schools’ dress code and nondiscrimination policies. The policies will now include specific protections for LGBT students, and school administrators and board members will receive training on LGBT issues.
The revised policies “will help to ensure that other students don’t face discrimination because of who they are or what they wear,” said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney in Lambda’s Chicago office, who handled the case with co-counsel from the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. He added that the case should send a clear message to schools around the country.
Read more here.
By guest blogger Jon Davidson, Legal Director for Lambda Legal
On Wednesday, October 6, I participated in a public panel discussion of the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger case and the constitutionality of denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Hosted by the renowned public policy organization The Aspen Institute, the program was to include Chuck Cooper (counsel for the Proponents of Prop. 8 in the Perry case), Matt McGill (one of the senior lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case), and Prof. Helen Alvare of George Mason Law School (who has worked in the past for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and has assisted the Holy See). The dialogue was to be recorded and made available online.
The day before the program was to be held, CSPAN indicated it was interested in televising the discussion. Hearing this, Chuck Cooper refused to participate and withdrew, based on opposition to having his discussions of the case appear in any way that could be seen by judges who might rule upon the case. At this point, Prof. Alvare also objected to a recording of the dialogue even being placed online (although that had been part of the terms of the original invitation) because, she said, prior public debates she had participated in had led to her receiving threatening phone calls and her husband urged her not to do something that might lead to that recurring. As a result, CSPAN was disinvited and the discussion was not put online.
While these events may not seem momentous, they are emblematic of a frightening strategy increasingly used by the opponents to equal rights for gay people. The Perry trial could not be televised, they argued, because expert witnesses, whose job is explaining their views to the public, might be intimidated by the public attention. Now, apparently, even discussions of the case are to be shielded from the general public. The narrative they have used to justify this is that they supposedly are the victims, not those whose rights they seek to deny. Gay people are the bullies, they assert, not those who discriminate against and harass us. They are afraid, they say, although we are the ones repeatedly murdered or driven to suicide.The truth is that their arguments are built upon nothing more than fear and stereotypes and they do not want to have their sound-bites subjected to evidentiary or sustained analytic scrutiny by the public.
This strategy of secrecy was also employed in the Doe vs. Reed case, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year.
In that case, the group that sought to place an initiative on the Washington ballot to repeal the state’s domestic partnership law claimed that those who signed petitions to place that measure on the ballot had to have their identity kept secret, lest they be targeted for harassment. Although the United States Supreme Court ruled that petition signers in general have no right to privacy, the antigay group is continuing with the lawsuit, claiming that theirs is a special case. Similarly, the National Organization for Marriage, which has raised millions of dollars to support ballot measures to prevent same-sex couples from marrying or entering civil unions, has filed lawsuits in several states to keep the identity of its donors secret.
Our nation has much to fear from these tactics. Allowing those who would deprive others of their rights to act in secrecy allows them to act free of any accountability. While the histories and tolls of racism and homophobia are not the same, banning efforts to oppress others without accountability is the reason why there are laws that prohibit members of the KKK from engaging in their activities in hoods. Such concealment is not part of our American tradition. As even conservative stalwart Justice Scalia said in his opinion in the Doe vs. Reed case:
“There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which … campaigns anonymously… and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”
In the 1970’s, there was a song called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, but with 24-hour news and the internet, much has changed in the coverage of public debate. If we allow political efforts to take away civil rights to proceed under the cover of secrecy, and give in to those who object to even having public discourse about those efforts be televised, this county will be in even more serious trouble.
Lambda Legal, the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association and the National Health Law Program have filed 26 pages of comments on proposed guidelines to eliminate discrimination in visitation against the families of LGBT patients published in June by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) , according to a Lambda Legal press release.
The department had invited comment from the public, as well as experts on healthcare and LGBT issues. President Barack Obama—motivated by the case of Janice Langbehn, who was denied access to dying partner Lisa Pond—issued a memo in April directing HHS to develop new hospital-visitation guidelines. Among the subjects that the three LGBT-rights organizations’ guidelines cover are: —who may visit when an incapacitated patient has not designated someone to make decisions; —patient-visitor documentation not being discriminatorily applied to LGBT individuals; —visitation rules having explicit non-discriminatory language to protect LGBT patients; and —an appeals procedure for visitation denials, with patients being informed about it.
The department had invited comment from the public, as well as experts on healthcare and LGBT issues.
President Barack Obama—motivated by the case of Janice Langbehn, who was denied access to dying partner Lisa Pond—issued a memo in April directing HHS to develop new hospital-visitation guidelines.
Among the subjects that the three LGBT-rights organizations’ guidelines cover are:
—who may visit when an incapacitated patient has not designated someone to make decisions;
—patient-visitor documentation not being discriminatorily applied to LGBT individuals;
—visitation rules having explicit non-discriminatory language to protect LGBT patients; and
—an appeals procedure for visitation denials, with patients being informed about it.