National Center for Lesbian Rights

Press

(San Francisco, CA, June 24, 2016)—To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Ropes & Gray will make a $100,000 donation to the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Ropes & Gray’s co-counsel in Obergefell.

Ropes & Gray’s donation to NCLR has been funded through legal fees awarded to the firm by a federal court in Tennessee as part of the resolution of the case, which also awarded fees to NCLR and other firms that successfully challenged Tennessee’s marriage equality ban.

The June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell marked one of the most inspiring and impactful civil rights victories in history, holding that people of all sexual orientations have a constitutional right to marry. Together with Ropes & Gray, NCLR, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD ), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Lambda Legal played pivotal roles in the case, with NCLR’s legal team working with Ropes & Gray on behalf of Tennessee’s marriage plaintiffs and to prepare Ropes & Gray appellate partner Douglas Hallward-Driemeier for oral argument before the Supreme Court.

“For nearly 40 years, NCLR has led the way in advocacy and advancement of LGBTQ issues, and we are proud to partner with them and support their tireless efforts with this donation,” said Ropes & Gray chair R. Bradford Malt. “NCLR was a crucial partner in achieving the monumental outcome in Obergefell, and it is important that its work on behalf of the LGBTQ community continue to flourish.”

Said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: “We offer our heartfelt thanks to Ropes & Gray for this generous donation. We could never have achieved this incredible victory in the Supreme Court without the brilliance, dedication, and experience of Doug Hallward-Driemeier and his team at Ropes & Gray. For years, Ropes & Gray has been a dedicated partner in the fight for LGBTQ equality, lending its attorneys’ expertise and resources to many important cases that have advanced the freedom of all Americans to live their lives genuinely, openly, and fearlessly.”

NCLR will use the donation to continue its work advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families across the country through impact litigation, legislation, policy and public education.

Beyond the donation to NCLR, Ropes & Gray will dedicate the remainder of the fees to fund pro bono initiatives at the firm. Any fees awarded to Ropes & Gray for its work on pro bono cases are used only to pay expenses for future pro bono matters, such as those in which the firm represents low-income individuals and nonprofit organizations without the means to pay for legal services. Those expenses include the costs of taking depositions, travel for hearings and other expenses related to its pro bono program.  None of the funds are used to reimburse the firm for the lawyers’ time.

About Ropes & Gray

Ropes & Gray’s pro bono and diversity efforts have long been an essential part of its culture. In 2015, nearly 1,400 of the firm’s attorneys and professionals worldwide dedicated more than 114,000 hours to public service. The firm’s involvement in high-impact pro bono matters led Chambers to recognize the firm with the “Pro Bono Program of the Year” award at its 2016 Diversity Awards.

Ropes & Gray has a distinguished history of work on LGBTQ issues and marriage equality. The firm is known for assisting LGBTQ asylum-seekers and securing health care rights for transgender prisoners and people living with HIV. The firm, in partnership with the NCLR, GLAD, Lambda Legal and other organizations, played an important role in pre-Obergefell efforts to establish marriage equality in New York and Maryland and to secure insurance and inheritance rights for same-sex married couples. Ropes & Gray also filed an amicus brief in the successful effort to establish marriage equality in Massachusetts, and signed onto another in the ultimately successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

About the National Center for Lesbian Rights

NCLR has been at the forefront of the movement for LGBTQ equality and justice since its start in 1977. It was the first organization to launch projects advancing parent, youth, immigrant, and transgender rights, and many others.

It continues to shape the legal landscape for all LGBTQ people and families across the country through impact litigation, legislation, policy, public education and its commitment not to leave anyone behind in its pursuit of equality and justice.

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