Defending our community
Full citizenship in America is more than a box to check on a form. It’s being able to live freely and openly everywhere you go. It’s feeling safe at school and work. It’s being able to seek medical care without discrimination or violence. It’s being treated with respect and dignity by law enforcement officers and others throughout the justice system. But at every stage of life, LGTBQ+ people and those living with HIV confront barriers to equality under the law. That’s why, for five decades and counting, Lambda Legal has stood up to defend our community’s rights.
We fight back when members of our community are fired, harassed, and targeted at work because they are LGBTQ+ or HIV+.
We combat the growing attacks on fair courts that threaten hard-won LGBTQ+ rights. Because our courts should make decisions based on constitutional and legal principles—not politics.
We defend the legal rights of same-sex couples and their families, from marriage equality to domestic partnership benefits to parent-child relationships.
We break down the barriers between our community and the health care they need, from medical discrimination to violations of personal autonomy.
We won the nation’s first HIV discrimination lawsuit—and since then, we’ve been fighting to maintain and expand protections for Americans living with HIV.
We fight for humane immigration policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ people and their unique legal needs.
Police Misconduct and Criminal Justice
We stand up to law enforcement that targets and abuses LGBTQ+ and HIV+ people by challenging unfair criminal laws and seeking recourse when our rights are violated.
We fight back when religious freedom is wrongly used as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and those living with HIV.
We defend the LGBTQ+ and HIV+ seniors who face discrimination, whether they’re refused housing or denied Social Security and other survivor benefits.
We work to ensure all LGBTQ+ youth are safe and free from discrimination and harassment, whether they’re in the hallways at school or in out-of-home care settings.
We work to expand and defend protections for transgender people who face rampant discrimination and are some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Five decades of progress
Explore key moments in the fight to secure our rights
In Re Thom
Our first case, filed on our own behalf, forces the state of New York to allow Lambda Legal to form as a nonprofit organization. Basing our Articles of Incorporation on those of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund (PRLDEF), Atty. Bill Thom founds Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, officially authorized to practice law on October 18, 1973.
People v. West 12 Tenants Corp.
Working with the New York Attorney General’s office, Lambda Legal files the nation’s first AIDS-discrimination challenge and wins a court order stopping the efforts of neighbors to evict a doctor because he treated HIV-positive patients.
Lambda Legal’s First Regional Office
Lambda Legal opens its first regional office, the Western Regional Office in Los Angeles.
Henkle v. Gregory
Lambda Legal's school harassment case establishes that LGBT students have a First Amendment right to be "out" at school.
Lawrence v. Texas
Lambda Legal wins landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Lawrence v. Texas, which strikes down the nation's remaining state sodomy laws and affirms the constitutional liberty to engage in private, consensual sexual intimacy without government interference.
Taylor v. Rice
Two weeks before trial, the State Department lifts its ban on hiring people with HIV as Foreign Service Officers, ending Lambda Legal’s five-year case challenging this discriminatory policy.
Glenn v. Brumby
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholds ruling that the firing of Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who worked for the Georgia General Assembly, was unconstitutional-- the most important ruling in federal court to date supporting the rights of transgender employees.
Obergefell v. Hodges
In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declares that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s decision invalidates all state statutes and constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marriage. Lambda Legal was co-counsel in one of the landmark cases.
Bostock v. Clayton County, GA
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision approving the analysis Lambda Legal has been advancing for fifteen years that discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is sex discrimination, and violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law, which often is referred to as “Title VII,” prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.
Ely v. Saul
A lawsuit against the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of a 65-year-old gay man seeking spousal survivor’s benefits based on his 43-year relationship with his husband, who died seven months after Arizona began allowing same-sex couples to marry. The Social Security Administration withdraws its appeal, securing the victory for all surviving same-sex spouses across the country who were barred from being married for at least nine months by discriminatory marriage bans.