Counsel and Health Care Strategist
New York, NY
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is Counsel and the Health Care Strategist at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. He has played a critical role in advancing the rights of LGBTQ people under the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws in virtually every aspect of our lives, including education, employment, health care, and housing.
Gonzalez-Pagan was instrumental in achieving two pivotal victories for LGBTQ people before the U.S. Supreme Court—Obergefell v. Hodges and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. As a member of the legal team in Obergefell, he helped secure marriage equality nationwide. He was also lead counsel in Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz and counsel in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, where he successfully challenged Puerto Rico’s and Louisiana’s marriage bans. Gonzalez-Pagan also co-authored Lambda Legal’s amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Bostock and EEOC and Aimee Stephens v. R.G. G.R Harris Funeral Homes, in which the Supreme Court held that discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status are forms of unlawful sex discrimination under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as coordinated the brief by 206 businesses urging the Supreme Court to do so. Before that, he helped pave the way for Bostock by securing two landmark decisions: Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., the first and second appellate decisions holding sexual orientation discrimination was unlawful under Title VII. Gonzalez-Pagan also obtained the first court decision in the country holding that the Federal Housing Act’s sex discrimination prohibition covers discrimination against LGBTQ people in Smith v. Avanti. As lead counsel in Evancho v. Pine-Richland School District and counsel in Adams v. The School Board of St. Johns County, Gonzalez-Pagan has also obtained key legal victories for the rights of transgender students under Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.
As Health Care Strategist, Gonzalez-Pagan has been a leading advocate for the Affordable Care Act, particularly as it applies to LGBTQ people, and ensuring access to gender-affirming care for transgender people across the country. Gonzalez-Pagan serves as counsel in Doe v. Abbott and PFLAG v. Abbott, challenging efforts by the State of Texas to redefine “child abuse” to encompass the provision of medically necessary gender-affirming care to transgender youth. He also serves as lead counsel in Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, in which he represents a coalition of LGBTQ health care providers and organizations challenging the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back health care protections for LGBTQ people, and is part of the legal team in County of Santa Clara v. HHS, where he represents a coalition of LGBTQ health care providers and organizations against the Trump’s administrations denial-of-care rule. Gonzalez-Pagan has been counsel in multiple challenges to discriminatory exclusions of coverage for gender-affirming health care, including C.P. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Kadel v. Folwell, and Simonson v. Oswego County; authored amicus briefs urging courts to adopt the most protective standards possible under the ACA, as he did in Ballenger v. Providence Hospital; co-authored amicus briefs highlighting the importance of the ACA for people living with HIV and LGBTQ people, as he did in California v. Texas; and co-authored amicus briefs seeking to protect people’s access to reproductive health care, as he did in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Zubik v. Burwell, and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania.
One of the architects of Lambda Legal’s efforts to secure the ability of transgender people to obtain accurate identity documents, Gonzalez-Pagan has served as lead counsel in Arroyo González v. Rosselló Nevares, Foster v. Andersen, MHW v. Cuomo, and Campos v. Cohen, where he secured the right of transgender people born in Puerto Rico, Kansas, New York, and North Carolina to obtain accurate birth certificates consistent with their gender identity, as well as Gore v. Lee, challenging Tennessee’s discriminatory birth certificate policies. He also served as counsel in Saba v. Cuomo, securing the ability of nonbinary persons to obtain accurate driver’s licenses with a gender marker other than Male or Female.
Gonzalez-Pagan has also been at the forefront of cross-movement legal efforts to secure a more just and equitable society. Gonzalez-Pagan serves as Lambda Legal’s lead counsel in Immigration Equality v. DHS, where he successfully stopped the Trump administration’s death-to-asylum from ever going into effect, and was counsel in Diversity Center v. Trump, where he was part of the legal team that successfully challenged former President Trump’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors and grantees from conducting workplace diversity trainings or engaging in grant-funded work that explicitly acknowledges and confronts the existence of structural racism and sexism in our society. He also co-authored amicus briefs in NYSRPA v. Bruen, highlighting how LGBTQ people — and especially transgender and LGBTQ people of Color — are disproportionately impacted by gun violence, and United States v. Hill, supporting the constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Recognized as an emerging leader and passionate advocate for the rights of LGBTQ people, Gonzalez-Pagan has spoken at many of America’s leading law schools, including Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, NYU, Penn, and Stanford, and bar associations. He has been recognized with Cornell Pride’s inaugural Steven W. Siegel ’68 Young Alumni Achievement Award (2022), the Gay City News Impact Award (2019), as a Top Lawyer Under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association (2018), one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association (2016), the Young Alumni Award by the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2016), and as a Public Interest Leader by the Boston Bar Association (2012). He is regularly quoted by news outlets regarding the civil rights of LGBTQ people and their families, and has made numerous media appearances, including MSNBC and CBS News.
Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Gonzalez-Pagan worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Assistant Attorney General, a Special Assistant District Attorney, and an Associate General Counsel to the Massachusetts Inspector General.
Gonzalez-Pagan received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. He also possesses a Master’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Cornell University. Gonzalez-Pagan was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is fluent in Spanish.
Gonzalez-Pagan is a member of the state bars of Massachusetts and New York.