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Omar Gonzalez-Pagan

Senior Counsel and Health Care Strategist
New York, NY

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is Senior 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. A prolific litigator, Gonzalez-Pagan has led or been dozens of trial cases and has argued multiple times before federal courts of appeal, including the Fourth, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits.

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. Aside from being part of the legal team in Obergefell, he was lead counsel in Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz and counsel in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, striking down Puerto Rico’s and Louisiana’s marriage bans. And on top of co-authoring Lambda Legal’s amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Bostock, he helped secured the first and second appellate decisions holding sexual orientation discrimination was unlawful under Title VII in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.  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.  And was lead counsel in Evancho v. Pine-Richland School District, where he obtained a key legal victory for transgender students’ rights.

As Health Care Strategist, Gonzalez-Pagan has been a leading advocate for access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender people across the country. In Doe v. Abbott and PFLAG v. Abbott, Gonzalez-Pagan put a stop to efforts by the State of Texas to redefine “child abuse” to encompass the provision of necessary gender-affirming medical care to transgender youth. He has also challenged bans on the provision of gender-affirming medical care for trans youth in Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas in Soe v. Louisiana Board of Medical ExaminersNoe v. Parson, Voe v. MansfieldPoe v. Drummond, and Loe v. Texas, respectively.

In Dekker v. Weida, Gonzalez-Pagan led the legal team that successfully challenged Florida’s ban on Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming medical care after a two-week trial. He has also been counsel in multiple challenges to discriminatory exclusions of coverage for gender-affirming medical care. This includes Kadel v. Folwell, in which an en banc Fourth Circuit found the North Carolina State Health Plan’s gender-affirming care exclusion to be unconstitutional, and  C.P. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, a class action lawsuit in which the court held that third-party administrators cannot administer gender-affirming care exclusions in employer-sponsored plans.

Gonzalez-Pagan has not only fought against the rollback of regulatory protections under the Affordable Care Act for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities in Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, he also has 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 seeking to protect people’s access to reproductive health care, as he did in Whole Woman’s Health v. HellerstedtZubik v. Burwell, and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania.

An architect 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 NevaresFoster v. AndersenMHW 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.

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 a 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 the LGBT Bar Association of New York’s Community Excellence Award; the Arthur S. Leonard Award by the LGBTQ Rights Committee of the NYC Bar Association (2024); as a finalist for Penn Law’s Toll Public Interest Center’s Alumni Impact Award (2023); 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.