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

From Kate: Full Speed Ahead


Dear Friend of NCLR,

kateCould you slow things down just a little bit? In just the past few months, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard our landmark Utah marriage equality case, we continue our work to bring marriage equality to Idaho, Florida, Tennessee, and Wyoming, we’re working in states across the country to protect LGBT youth from the dangers of anti-LGBT conversion therapy, we helped defeat an effort to repeal California’s new law protecting transgender students, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed that asinine and ridiculous bill that would have encouraged discrimination, and similar bills which had been proposed in Mississippi, Georgia, and Ohio were pulled or amended to remove the most offensive provisions.

Truly, if you blink, you will miss something.

The events of the past few months are numerous, breathtaking, inspiring, and surreal. I am enjoying witnessing this history every bit as much as you are. It feels very gratifying to know that NCLR has helped make this moment happen—that as every day shows more and more, our work is resonant, meaningful, and revolutionary. It must feel amazing to you to know that you provided critical support for us to do this world-changing work. Your faith, your investment, your belief that this was possible is bearing fruit—bushels of it, in fact! We are all so grateful and thankful for you.

We will be celebrating how far we’ve come in the movement for LGBT equality at our Anniversary Celebration next week—on May 17th—in San Francisco (below, you can read more about the celebration, learn about some of the amazing and courageous people we will be honoring this year, AND buy tickets).

We are also students of the world and of other civil rights struggles. It would be a grave mistake to declare victory too soon. We know that true equality and acceptance are a long way off, particularly for the most vulnerable in our community. Our transgender brothers and sisters, our young people, folks who are poor or who live in rural areas, and many LGBT people of color need us to build on these recent victories, press every advantage and refuse to rest until all live freely. We also know that there are lethal threats faced by countless LGBT people in many places around the world, so we will celebrate, we will exult, but we will not say we’ve won—until we all have won.

But with all that we have seen—that we never thought we would see—who among us can seriously doubt that at some point, on some bright day, we will get there.

Thank you for giving us wings,
Kate Kendell, Esq.
NCLR Executive Director

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Don’t Miss NCLR’s Anniversary Celebration May 17, 2014 in San Francisco


What are you doing May 17th?

Partygoers celebrate at past NCLR Anniversary Celebration events.

Partygoers celebrate at past NCLR Anniversary Celebration events.

Join us in San Francisco as we honor heroes and celebrate victories in the movement for LGBT equality. This year, there’s so much to celebrate—from groundbreaking legal victories to more people giving voice and visibility to our community.

We’re excited to announce that we will be honoring actor Meredith Baxter—who we all fell in love with on “Family Ties” as Elyse Keaton—for her relentless commitment to the movement for LGBT equality. We will also honor Ryan Kendall and Sam Brinton, survivors of anti-LGBT conversion therapy, who have been outspoken supporters of laws protecting young LGBT people from these dangerous and cruel practices.

The Anniversary Celebration—NCLR’s signature event—attracts a sell-out crowd of 1,500 people from across the country to celebrate victories in the movement for full LGBT equality, and to honor those who have become role models through their commitment to justice. Wells Fargo is the event Presenting Sponsor and Olivia is the Premier Party Sponsor.

Anniversary Celebration Dinner: Today is the last day to buy your Anniversary Celebration dinner tickets! Secure your tickets to the dinner now.

Anniversary Celebration Party: Get your party tickets now for $90 per person for NCLR’s Anniversary Celebration Party immediately following the Dinner at the City View at Metreon. Tickets are available online until Thursday, May 15th. Ticket can be purchased at the Party door starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 17th.

Questions: Contact Development Events Manager Dani Siragusa at or 415.365.1309.

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NCLR—Working to Ensure the Freedom to Marry


There’s no question that the last year has been a game changer for the freedom to marry.

Florida marriage equality case plaintiffs Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, with their son.

Florida marriage equality case plaintiffs Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, with their son.

Seventeen states, Washington D.C., and at least eight tribal nations honor the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and we’re working to increase those numbers so that every couple who wishes to say “I do” can do so.

In the last few months, our team has been working to ensure the freedom to marry as co-counsel in the landmark Utah case heard before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals last month and filing marriage equality lawsuits in several states.

In December, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. That decision is now on appeal before the Tenth Circuit. The State of Utah filed its opening brief in that court on February 3, 2013, arguing that Utah’s marriage ban was justified based on Utah’s interest in giving heterosexual couples “privileged and special status” because they are able to procreate biologically.

This is an especially exhilarating moment in LGBT history as it marks the first time same sex couples have won—even though the case is on appeal—the freedom to marry in a RED state, demonstrating how far we have come. In the brief filed with the Tenth Circuit, the Utah couples argue that the Constitution requires Utah to treat all families fairly and to ensure that all children, including those being raised by same-sex parents, are equally protected.

We also have cases pending in Tennessee, Idaho, Florida, and Wyoming, where same-sex couples in each state are challenging discriminatory laws that treat them and their relationships differently because of who they are.

NCLR is committed to bringing respect and dignity to every member of our community across the country. We won’t leave anyone behind.

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NCLR at the Forefront of Protecting LGBT Youth From Anti-LGBT Conversion Therapy


When he was 5 years old, Kirk Murphy’s parents noticed that he was developing a preference for girl’s toys.Reparative Therapy

His mother turned to a clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles after seeing a commercial claiming that the clinic’s therapists could “fix” children who are gender non-conforming.

After nearly a year of so-called “treatment,” which included parental rejection and beatings for gender non-conforming behaviors that left Kirk traumatized and his entire family severely damaged, he was pronounced “cured.”

George Rekers, the doctoral student who “treated” Kirk, spent the 30 years that followed building a highly-influential career off of Kirk’s experience—despite reports and widespread denouncements from every major mental health organization that the practices are dangerous. In 2003, at the age of 38, Kirk took his life. Six years later, Rekers published his latest book citing Kirk’s case as a success.​

This is one of many tragic stories we’ve heard since we began working to protect LGBT young people from the dangers of anti-LGBT conversion therapy more than 20 years ago, finally securing legislation banning these dangerous practices in California in 2012 and New Jersey in 2013.

We’re now working with LGBT leaders and legislators in more than a dozen other states across the country to help bring similar legislation to those states, protecting more young people and their families from deceitful therapists and counselors.

Few practices are more harmful to LGBT young people than anti-LGBT conversion therapy, also known as so-called “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts.” Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at serious risk. NCLR has been at the forefront of the effort to protect LGBT minors from these dangerous and discredited practices by mental health providers, which put youth at risk of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

In 2012, NCLR worked with Equality California to help draft and pass California’s Senate Bill 1172, which Governor Jerry Brown signed—making California the first state in the nation to protect LGBT young people from these practices. The following year, NCLR worked with New Jersey legislators and Garden State Equality to pass the second bill of its kind, which Governor Chris Christie signed into law. We are now representing advocates in California and New Jersey to defend existing laws against legal challenges by anti-LGBT groups.

We are committed to ending these dangerous and stigmatizing practices—relegating them to the dustbin of history.

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NCLR Participates in Give OUT Day

give out day

On May 15th, 2014, the LGBT and ally community will come together for Give OUT Day, and we need YOU to join us. It’s 24 hours of LGBTQ giving to organizations that impact you—and it’s your chance to make a real difference, right here in OUR community.

Mark your calendars and support NCLR’s amazing work! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out more and share with your friends and family.

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Marriage Equality

NCLR is working to bring marriage equality to states across the country. We are representing same-sex couples in Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming, and have filed friends of the court briefs in more than two-dozen other marriage equality cases across the country.

Read more about our active marriage equality cases:

Securing Opportunities for Transgender Youth

All students across California now have fair chances to do well in school since the School Success and Opportunity Act—also known as Assembly Bill 1266—was passed by the legislature, signed by the governor, and went into effect on January 1, 2014. The law ensures that schools have the guidance they need to make sure all students, including those who are transgender, have the opportunity to do well in school and graduate.

NCLR—along with the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, GSA Network, ACLU of California, Gender Spectrum, and L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center—was a key sponsor and supporter of the law, which is modeled after policies and practices that are already working well in several schools.

Read more.

Protecting LGBT Youth

NCLR has been at the forefront of the effort to protect LGBT minors from anti-LGBT conversion therapy at the hands of counselors and therapists who use discredited tactics to try change their clients’ sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, exposing them to long-term harm that includes serious depression and suicide attempts. NCLR helped draft and pass the nation’s first two laws—in California and New Jersey—protecting youth from these practice, and is now working with more than a dozen other states to do the same in those states.

Read more.

Learn more about our cases and advocacy and our policy and legislation work.

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NCLR’s staff is on the road, presenting on a variety of topics—from the progress made over the last year in the movement for LGBT equality to the work we’re doing to protect your rights and the rights of those you love.

  • If you’re in the Salt Lake City area, don’t miss the upcoming event on June 19th to benefit NCLR’s Utah marriage equality case work.
  • Don’t miss the LGBT party of the year—NCLR’s Anniversary Celebration on May 17th in San Francisco.

Check out other upcoming events, and don’t forget to visit our events page regularly for updates.

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