Tara Borelli is counsel at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV.
Borelli’s work centers on bringing test cases to advance equality and liberty for all LGBT people, with a particular focus on issues of discrimination involving transgender people. She is a member of the Karnoski v. Trump legal team presently challenging the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender people.
Borelli was also part of the trial team that secured a major victory for the rights of transgender students in July 2018 in Adams v. The School Board of St. Johns County, which sought equal access to restrooms for a Florida high school student, and is the first case of its kind to go to trial.
Tara also currently represents federal and state employees denied transition-related health care coverage in violation of federal sex discrimination laws, and previously obtained a settlement in Esquivel v. Oregon, which removed restrictions on transition-related care for all transgender employees of the State of Oregon.
Previously, Borelli brought litigation that helped declare the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management and helped secure marriage equality in Inniss v. Aderhold (Georgia), Bostic v. Schaefer (Virginia), and Sevcik v. Sandoval (Nevada). Notably, Borelli argued on behalf of Beverly Sevcik and Mary Baranovich and seven other same-sex couples before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, securing marriage equality for couples in Nevada and creating precedent that advanced marriage equality throughout the western United States in the months leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
As part of Lambda Legal’s ongoing efforts to secure marriage equality protections that extend from cradle to grave, Borelli successfully represented plaintiffs in Carson v. Heigel, which overturned South Carolina’s refusal to recognize same-sex spouses on birth certificates and in Birchfield v. Armstrong, a class action victory for Florida widows and widowers denied recognition of marriages on spousal death certificates.
Earlier in her career, Borelli litigated a number of cases to secure health care benefits and other protections for same-sex couples in domestic partnerships or their pre-marriage equality equivalent. For example, in Diaz v. Brewer, Tara successfully argued to the Ninth Circuit that Arizona could not strip same-sex couples of family health coverage notwithstanding that state’s discriminatory marriage laws.
Borelli has served as counsel for amici curiae in numerous cases, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC v. Abbott Laboratories which held that heightened scrutiny applies to sexual orientation discrimination. Likewise, in Munson v. Del Taco, she successfully argued on behalf of HIV service providers that California’s public accommodations law does not impose a separate intent requirement for individuals who have proven a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She has also represented amici curiae in cases involving the rights of transgender students to access school facilities in accordance with their gender identity, including Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District (Wisconsin), Doe v. Boyertown Area School District (Pennsylvania), Highland v. U.S. Department of Education (Ohio), and G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board (Virginia).
Her work has been recognized in 2013 with Equality Arizona’s Barry Goldwater Human Rights Award and the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom’s Legal Service Award. She was named one of the Daily Journal Top 100 California Lawyers and Top Women Lawyers in 2012, and one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association in 2011.
She received her Juris Doctor from the UC Berkeley School of Law and is a member of the state bars of Georgia, California, and Washington.