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

From Kate: Summer? What Summer?


Dear Friend of NCLR,

KateKendellSummer is often just as busy as any other time of year for us, and this year it’s even more so.

NCLR is representing same-sex couples in nine marriage equality cases, including the Utah case that may be headed to the United States Supreme Court. We have Circuit Court arguments in our Tennessee and Idaho marriage cases soon. In Idaho, we have also brought a new case on behalf of the fierce and rocking Madelynn Taylor, a 74-year-old Navy Veteran who was denied the simple request to be buried with her wife in the state’s veteran’s cemetery.

On other fronts, NCLR recently launched a major campaign—#BornPerfect—to end so-called “conversion therapy” in the next 5 years. We have seen firsthand the terrible damage done by therapists who propagate the terrible lie that being LGBT is a defect or moral failing. We are committed to do whatever it takes to end these dangerous and hateful practices once and for all.

We also just kicked off our #RuralPride campaign, our partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to champion the needs of LGBT folks who live in rural parts of the country and to highlight the amazing local and state organizations on the frontlines of these issues.

And I haven’t even mentioned our sports, immigration and youth projects, our trainings for legal aid attorneys to represent low income LGBT people, or our policy work in Washington D.C. to support President Obama’s new executive order barring employment discrimination by federal contractors and to ensure that federal legislation protecting LGBT people does not include a discriminatory religious exemption.

I think you get my point. We are not letting up one little bit.

Over the past few weeks, vacations have been canceled, countless hours of sleep missed, and weekends turned into workdays. I’m a big believer in my staff taking care of themselves and finding time recharge, but sometimes that value is hard to practice.

We are at a moment where much is demanded, so here we are. We’ll get to those vacations and weekends off, but this summer we are giving all we can. This has been an amazing time for our entire community. Huge wins, big gains, fearsome threats, and much work left to do. We are grateful every day to do this work. We are ever more committed to making you proud and to seeing justice done on every front.

I hope you will rest easy knowing your investment and support is being put to very good use. We would not be here without you, but to finish this chapter and being ready for what comes next, we will need you more than ever.

Let’s do this!
Kate Kendell, Esq.
NCLR Executive Director

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NCLR Wins Fifth Marriage Equality Case


On Friday, NCLR won its fifth marriage equality case since last year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

A Florida state trial court issued a decision striking down Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples and ordering Miami-Dade County to allow same-sex couples to marry. The decision—which was stayed pending appeal—is the latest in a string of victories in NCLR’s nine marriage equality cases.

Just last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a historic ruling in our Utah marriage equality case that found Utah’s freedom to marry ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. This is the first federal appellate court ruling since the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision—and the first ever to hold that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry. The State of Utah plans on petitioning the Supreme Court to review the decision.

We also have won victories in New Mexico, Idaho, and Tennessee. Oral arguments in the Idaho and Tennessee cases will be heard in the Ninth and Sixth Circuits, respectively, in the next few weeks. And thanks to our win in the New Mexico Supreme Court, LGBT people throughout the state can now marry the person they love.

We are also representing couples in marriage cases in North Dakota, South Dakota, a second case in Florida and the Idaho case of 74-year-old veteran who is being denied the right to be buried together with her late wife in the Idaho Veterans Cemetery.

The Supreme Court’s decision on June 26, 2013 set off a legal tidal wave unlike anything we have seen before.

Inspired by Justice Kennedy’s stirring decision—the first recognition ever by the Supreme Court that our families are just like other families and deserve the same respect—couples across the country flooded the courts with new cases seeking the freedom to marry.

Since then, every court to consider the issue has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, including federal and state courts in Utah, Ohio, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Today, same sex-couples can get married in 19 states, at least 8 tribal nations, and the District of Columbia.

It’s only a matter of time before a marriage case reaches the Supreme Court. No matter what, NCLR will be there again. We will urge the Court to recognize that the equal respect it spoke about so powerfully a year ago means that all couples, in every state, deserve the freedom to marry.

We’re committed to stay in this fight until every couple across the country has the freedom to marry.

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Lesbian Veteran Challenges Idaho to Be Buried with her Late Wife


MadelynnAfter her wife died, 74-year-old Navy Veteran Madelynn Taylor went to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery to make arrangements so the two could eventually be buried together.

But she was turned away.

Madelynn, with the help of NCLR and Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham, filed a lawsuit this month challenging Idaho state laws banning her from being buried with her late wife, Jean Mixner, who she married in California in 2008.

The lawsuit argues that Idaho’s laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

“Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean,” Madelynn said. “I could be buried here alone, but I don’t want to be alone. I want Jean with me forever.”

The lawsuit follows a landmark marriage equality victory in Idaho. On May 13, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered the State of Idaho to allow same-sex couples to marry and to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states after four same-sex couples challenged state laws. The couples in that case are also represented by NCLR and attorneys Ferguson and Durham.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have appealed Judge Dale’s decision to the Ninth Circuit. The appeal will be argued on September 8 in San Francisco, California.

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NCLR Launches #BornPerfect to End Conversion Therapy in Five Years


BornPerfectNCLR has launched #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy.

Our goal is ambitious: End the dangerous practice of conversion therapy in five years.

Few practices hurt LGBT children more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through so-called conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts.”

Yet some unethical counselors and therapists continue to subject young LGBT people to these practices—which often include the use of shame and verbal abuse—even though they have been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.

NCLR has been at the forefront of the effort to protect LGBT kids from these practices for more than 20 years, successfully working to help draft and pass California’s Senate Bill 1172 in 2012, the nation’s first to protect LGBT children from the dangers of conversion therapy. The following year, NCLR helped New Jersey pass a similar law and is now working with legislators and LGBT leaders in more than a dozen other states to bring protections to LGBT kids across the country.

We have seen firsthand the damage done by this dehumanizing and shaming practice. We will not stop until LGBT people—and especially LGBT children—are no longer stigmatized and harmed by this destructive practice.

Conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. We intend to end it.

Learn more about the campaign at

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#RuralPride Campaigns Addresses LGBT Needs in Rural U.S.


RuralPrideNCLR’s #RuralPride campaign with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in full swing, with hundreds of people attending the first two, day-long summits and seven more are planned over the next few months.

The #RuralPride campaign is designed to elevate and address the needs of LGBT people living in rural communities across the country through a series of day-long summits, challenge the stereotype that LGBT people live only in metropolitan areas, and raise awareness of the particular issues faced by LGBT rural communities.

We held our kick-off event on June 6th in Greensboro, North Carolina. More than 100 people to participate in the day-long discussion that was co-hosted by the LGBTQ Law Center. USDA Civil Rights Assistant Secretary Joe Leonard focused his opening remarks on how meaningful it was that this first event coincided with the memorial for Dr. Maya Angelou, which was being held nearby. It was an incredibly powerful note on which to begin the day, and the sentiment carried us throughout our conversations.

The second summit took place in Lost River, West Virginia on July 12th, and it brought together—virtually and in person—more than 200 people to discuss the needs of rural LGBT West Virginians. Co-hosted by the LGBT Technology Project, this summit allowed us to focus on concerns that were particularly relevant to the West Virginia rural community.

In addition to discussing vulnerabilities that stem from poverty and lack of legal protections that the LGBT community faces, we discussed the importance of increasing access to technology, including improving extremely sparse internet and cell service, and why net neutrality is an LGBT issue.

We are looking forward to bringing this important conversation about rural LGBT needs to as many communities as possible.

Learn more about the #RuralPride at

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the agenda
Lesbian Veteran Fights to be Buried with her Wife

NCLR is representing 74-year Navy Veteran Madelynn Taylor, who is challenging Idaho state laws prohibiting her from being buried with her late wife, Jean Mixner, who she married in California in 2008. The lawsuit argues that Idaho’s laws banning marriage equality violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Read more.

Marriage Equality in South Dakota

NCLR has joined the team working on behalf of six same-sex couples challenging South Dakota laws banning the freedom to marry.

Read more.

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

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On the Road2
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.

NCLR in Los Altos

At the home of NCLR supporters Mika Mayer and Jennifer Lynch

October 9

It’s that time of year again – join Executive Director Kate Kendell as we kick off NCLR’s Major Gifts Campaign with great food, drink, and an update on our movement and the work yet to be done. More details to come!

For questions contact Development Events Manager Dani Siragusa at or 415.365.1309

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

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