Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education for 40 Years

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December 1, 2017

World AIDS Day Message from Executive Director Kate Kendell

This year, NCLR celebrated four decades of work to advance LGBTQ equality. We know that we are stronger and better able to fight today’s battles because of our deep history in the movement—growing with, standing with, and supporting our community. And today, on World AIDS Day 2017, we renew our commitment to the fight against HIV, supporting our family members living with HIV, and honoring those who have died.

Former executive director Roberta Achtenberg recently reflected on our early work in support of those living with HIV during the height of the epidemic in San Francisco: “When I think back on that time, it was a slaughter, a disaster impacting hundreds of thousands of young men. Particularly because of our social justice background and the more progressive inclinations of the lesbian community in our own town and nationwide, we did everything we could think of in the middle of such dramatic loss and terrible tragedy.”

For NCLR, then called the Lesbian Rights Project, that included delivering free legal services to individuals living with HIV, laying the groundwork that helped establish the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, and coordinating with a deep bench of volunteer attorneys both in San Francisco and across the country.  In 1988, Achtenberg and others helped secure the first ruling in the nation granting custody to a parent living with AIDS. At the time, Achtenberg commented that the ruling, “strikes a blow against the ignorance that surrounds both AIDS and homosexuality.”

Yet despite the incredible significance of the fight against AIDS for our community, yesterday, President Trump failed to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and people of color in his World AIDS Day Proclamation. Under this administration, it’s more important than ever that we remember our history—and counter these repeated attempts at erasure.

Today, and every day, we honor those community members lost to HIV/AIDS, and we stand with those living today with HIV. We are here for you and will keep fighting and advocating for you—in Washington and across the country.

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