Before ushering in a new year, we at Lambda Legal want to take a moment to highlight some of our achievements and milestones from 2023. We also included other legal and policy news items that greatly impacted the communities we serve.
We are proud of all that Lambda Legal has accomplished these last 12 months, and we’re bringing this momentum into 2024 as we continue our fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people and everyone living with HIV.
Find our year-in-review list below, which is in chronological order. It’s important to note that what’s mentioned here represents just a tiny, tiny snapshot of an incredibly busy 2023. One roundup post — or even five! — couldn’t possibly capture the scope of this year’s work.
Lambda Legal’s Collaboration with NASCAR driver Zach Herrin
To kick off February, Lambda Legal began its collaborative partnership with openly gay NASCAR driver Zach Herrin, who recently returned to racing after a 10-year hiatus. “I am committed to using my platform to make a positive impact on the world. I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with Lambda Legal and their efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable society,” Herrin said at the time.
Lambda Legal’s Logo Rebrand
In the lead-up to our 50th anniversary, we unveiled our brand new logo and colors in early March. The sleek update represents our unprecedented past, present, and future victories.
Lambda Legal’s New Website
Just days after the logo rebrand reveal, Lambda Legal launched its brand new website. Along with the updated logo and brand colors, the website boasts a stylish design and modern technical features to ensure quality user experience and easier navigation to all of our important case work and resources.
Trans Day of Visibility Events in Washington, D.C.
In response to the waves of anti-trans legislation, thousands of people took the streets of Washington, D.C., to show their support for trans rights on Trans Day of Visibility (March 31). The White House also hosted a special roundtable to discuss the hopes, dreams, and challenges that trans youth experience.
The Release of Lambda Legal’s 2022 Protected & Served? Report
After ten years, Lambda Legal brought back its comprehensive Protected & Served? Report in April. The data was gathered from more than 2,500 LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV about their experiences with the criminal legal system, including police, courts, prisons, jails, schools, and other government agencies. And for the first time, Protected & Served? 2022 included participants who were detained in jails and prisons across the country and a significant number of people who engage in sex work.
The Reintroductions of Both the Do No Harm Act and Equality Act
April 19 brought the re-introduction of the Do No Harm Act, a long-overdue correction to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which amends the law to clarify that it does not permit the use of religion to discriminate, impose religious beliefs, deny others specified goods or services, or inflict dignitary or other harm on others. The legislation is led by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Rep. Steve Cohen, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, and House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government Ranking Member Mary Gay Scanlon in the House.
At the end of June, U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced in June the re-introduction of the Equality Act, federal legislation that will update existing federal nondiscrimination laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act, to confirm that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unlawful discrimination based on sex.
The FDA’s New Guidelines for Blood Donation
This past May, the Food and Drug Administration finalized new guidelines for assessing blood donor eligibility. Going forward, the agency said that eligibility should be determined using a set of individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV, and that these questions should be posed to every donor — regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender.
In a huge win for LGBTQ+ rights, the implementation of these new guidelines has finally allowed for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.
Lambda Legal’s National Liberty Awards with Billy Porter
The 2023 Liberty Awards National Dinner took place in New York City in June. The gala event featured glitz, glamor, social justice, and a special guest in Billy Porter. The actor, activist, and author was presented with the Lambda Legal Liberty Award for demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and those impacted by HIV and AIDS throughout his career.
Victory for Transgender Floridians in Dekker v. Weida
On June 21, we scored a major victory in our Dekker v. Weida case. Ruling for Lambda Legal’s clients, a U.S. District Court Judge struck down Florida’s anti-transgender health care rule that denied the state’s transgender Medicaid beneficiaries coverage for evidence-based, widely accepted gender-affirming medical care.
The 20th Anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas
June 26 marked the 20th anniversary of Lambda Legal’s historic Supreme Court victory in Lawrence v. Texas. In 2003, the Court held that the U.S. Constitution protects the liberty of LGBTQ+ people to forge intimate personal relationships and engage in private, consensual sexual conduct.
The White House Hosts Its Largest Pride Event
Against the backdrop of unprecedented anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the White House hosted its largest Pride event ever. President Joe Biden invited thousands to take part in the festivities, including survivors of the Club Q and Pulse nightclub shootings and Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Admiral Rachel Levine, the first openly trans person to be confirmed by the Senate.
The Commissioning of Plaintiff Nick Harrison
In a historic moment, Nick Harrison was finally commissioned as an officer in the United States Army on Aug. 5.
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army on behalf of Harrison back in 2018, after his application to serve as an officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps was denied solely because he lives with HIV. In its landmark ruling last year, the federal court ordered the Department of Defense to stop discriminating against service members living with HIV and to allow them to deploy and commission as officers in the U.S. military.
Lambda Legal’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations
Lambda Legal officially turned 50 on October 18! We marked our unprecedented past and unstoppable future with multiple anniversary events around the country. Our New York City celebration featured a special performance from Alex Newell, who earlier this year became one of the first openly nonbinary actors to win a Tony Award.
Lambda Legal Urges Supreme Court to Block Tennessee’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Care
This year alone, we have seen more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills be introduced in states around the country. But Lambda Legal remains undeterred and steadfast in its fight to defend LGBTQ+ people, especially trans youth. On Nov. 1, we asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a Tennessee law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans people under 18.
Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit (L.W. v. Skrmetti) challenging this law back in April. Despite the district court finding it likely unconstitutional and irreparably harmful, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided to allow the ban to take effect. If SCOTUS chooses to review the case, it would be the first gender-affirming care case to be heard by the Court.
The Launch of the Queer Justice Museum Exhibit
For 50 years, Lambda Legal has been at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, paving the way for progress and equality. The history of our work is the focus of Queer Justice, a new traveling exhibition created in collaboration with the American LGBTQ+ Museum. Following its debut in New York City in November, Queer Justice will make its way to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas in 2024.
Also, be sure to check out our blog post about some of our favorite LGBTQ+ pop culture stories of the year.