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Marriage & Relationships

After marriage equality, LGBTQ people still face significant discrimination related to their relationships and families. Many states still do not treat same-sex spouses equally in every respect, and unmarried partners in most states lack full protections. NCLR works to ensure that marriage equality is a reality for same-sex spouses, including access to common law marriages, and to advance laws protecting unmarried partners.

NCLR represented the Tennessee plaintiffs in the marriage equality cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as counsel in many of the state marriage equality cases. After achieving marriage equality, NCLR has continued our work to ensure that all relationships and families are recognized and free from discrimination.


Legislation & Policy

Uniform Laws Protecting Nonmarital Relationships


Few states provide strong protections for people in nonmarital relationships — some states do not even recognize that unmarried couples even have the right to enter into cohabitation agreements. The Uniform Law Commission is currently drafting a Uniform Act, the Economic Rights for Unmarried Cohabitants, to provide a basis for states to provide some recognition for nonmarital relationships. NCLR is an Observer for the drafting committee, providing input and representing the needs of LGBTQ people in nonmarital relationships as the uniform legislation is being drafted.


Cases & Advocacy

Reed v. KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan


On August 9, 2016, the widower of a former KRON4 employee sued Young Broadcasting of San Francisco and the KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan for refusing to provide him with a spousal pension benefit even though the couple were registered domestic partners.



Press Release

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Gay Widower, Reversing KRON4 Pension Plan’s Denial of Survivor Benefits 

May 16, 2019. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision in favor of David Reed, reversing a lower court decision finding that the KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan did not have to provide him with spousal survivor benefit, even though David was the registered domestic partner of a former KRON4 employee. David is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Renaker Hasselman Scott LLP.


NCLR on Kavanaugh’s Refusal to Say Marriage Equality was Correctly Decided

September 7, 2018. “Brett Kavanaugh’s refusal to confirm that Obergefell was correctly decided is chilling and poses an unprecedented threat to the liberty and equality of LGBTQ people. It is also a threat to the stability of constitutional law and the Court’s respect for its own precedent. He is willing to throw into question not only Obergefell and the right of same-sex couples to marry, but the Court’s commitment that it will respect prior decisions as settled law unless there are compelling reasons to reverse course.”


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