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Our Voices

In the Interest of A.E.

C.W. and M.N. were a married same-sex couple who decided to conceive a child using an anonymous sperm donor. Unfortunately, the couple separated during the pregnancy, but C.W. was present when their baby, A.E. was born, and was involved in A.E.’s care and support until M.N. stopped allowing her to see the baby. The couple had joint baby showers, gave the child a hyphenated last name, and celebrated Mother’s Day together. Even though Texas recognizes that different-sex spouses who conceive...


Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Company

Nicole Wittmer filed a lawsuit against Phillips 66 Company, alleging that the company refused to hire her for a job because she is transgender. A federal district court in Texas ruled that Title VII, a federal law that prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace, protects transgender workers, but that Wittmer had not offered sufficient evidence that her transgender status was the reason she was not hired. Wittmer appealed. In 2018, NCLR, along with the ACLU, GLBTQ Legal Advocates &...


Pidgeon v. Turner

In 2013, Houston mayor Annise Parker directed that same-sex spouses of city employees who were legally married in another state be afforded the same benefits as different-sex spouses of city employees. Two individuals, represented by the anti-LGBTQ group Texas Values, filed a lawsuit in Texas state court challenging the extension of benefits to same-sex spouses, arguing that it violated Texas’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples. In 2015, while the Texas case was pending, the...


Texas v. United States

In May 2016, Texas, joined by Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, filed a federal lawsuit challenging guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recognizing that schools must be safe, respectful and nurturing environments for all students, including transgender students. The states filed a motion that sought to block implementation of the guidance and preserve their ability to discriminate against a...


Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

On January 4, 2016, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and a coalition of 13 other LGBT, racial justice, and health equity organizations filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down draconian restrictions on abortion providers enacted by the State of Texas in 2013 which, if upheld, would lead to the closing of most abortion clinics in the state. In addition to NCLR, the organizations filing the brief are Gay &...


Jamal v. Saks & Company

On January 20, 2015, NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas supporting former Saks Fifth Avenue employee Leyth Jamal, who filed a case alleging that Saks discriminated against her for being transgender. In a request to dismiss the lawsuit, Saks argued‚–contrary to contemporary case law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Justice‚–that...


Stephens v. Bloomsburg School District

NCLR and attorney Michael Shirk from the National Education Association/Texas State Teacher’s Association negotiated a settlement on behalf of Merry Stephens, an award-winning teacher and basketball coach with Bloomburg Independent School District in the small rural community of Bloomburg, Texas. Coach Stephens was honored as a “Teacher of the Year” in 2004 and named “Coach of the Year” in three of her five years as head coach of the Lady Wildcats basketball team....


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