Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Mission & History

Fighting for custody rights for Sharon Johnson, one of NCLR’s first clients, in 1983

Who We Are

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was the first national LGBTQ legal organization founded by women and brings a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community’s most vulnerable.

Since 1977, NCLR has been at the forefront of advancing the civil and human rights of our full LGBTQ community and their families through impact litigation, public policy, and public education. Decades ago, NCLR led the way by establishing the first LGBTQ Immigration Project, Transgender Rights Project, Youth Project, Elder Law Project, and began working to end conversion therapy through what is now the Born Perfect campaign.

Our Proud History

In 1977, a brave and determined woman, fresh out of law school and eager to make a difference, decided to put her knowledge to good use. As a legal scholar, Donna Hitchens saw the courtroom as a way to change the world. As a lesbian, she had experienced frustrations and fears—both personal and professional—and didn’t want others to suffer the same. As a future parent, she knew she would face even more challenges ahead.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights was born.

Each year, NCLR shapes the legal landscape for all LGBT people and families across the nation through its precedent- setting litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.

For more than three decades, NCLR has led historic cases, and it is still blazing trails in pursuit of justice, fairness, and legal protections for all LGBT people.

Mission: NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.

What We Do: NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm that litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT issues.

Our Impact: NCLR’s legal, policy, and legislative victories set important precedents that improve the lives of all LGBT people and their families across the country. Our free legal assistance empowers individuals to assert their own legal rights. Our community and public education broadens public support for LGBT equality.

Projects and Legal Issue Areas Include: Asylum & Immigration; Elders; Employment; Family & Relationships; Federal Legislation & Policy; State Legislation & Policy; Hate Crimes; Healthcare; Housing; Low Income & Poverty; Prisons; Rural Communities; Sports; Transgender Law; and Youth.

Read NCLR’s End Statements.

Our Financials
Our 2013 budget was $5 million, 85% of which is spent directly on our legal programs and services. As for our revenue, 75% of our annual budget is raised from individual donors, with major gifts of $1,500 or more making up about 40% of our total income. Additional funding comes from foundations and corporations, along with pro-bono services contributed by co-counsel.

Explore NCLR’s Financials.

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