National Center for Lesbian Rights

Legislation & Policy


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Women’s Health Protection Act

The Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 2975/S. 1645) is federal legislation that would protect abortion access from the state-level bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that are currently reducing or eliminating access to care across the country. On February 12, 2020, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on WHPA. NCLR led the drafting and submission of testimony on behalf of numerous LGBTQ organizations in support of the bill.


Common Ground Initiative

NCLR partners with the NCAA in the Common Ground Initiative to increase dialogue at conservative religious colleges about how LGBTQ inclusion and respect for religion can operate together to create safer, healthier, and more inclusive environments for student athletes—and by extension for all students.


National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network

NCLR co-founded the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network in October 2018 and co-coordinates the Network with The Vaid Group. The mission of the Network is to end poverty in the U.S., advocate for economic justice, and pursue solutions to economic, racial, gender and social disparities as they specifically impact low-income LGBTQ people. It seeks to do this through research, organizing, learning, public education, and advocacy in coalition with organizations and individuals working within and outside of the LGBTQ movement.


National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group

NCLR is a member of the National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, which is a network of nearly 50 organizations and individual stakeholders working to reduce the unique harms of the U.S. criminal legal system experienced by LGBTQ+ people, people living with HIV, or those at risk of acquiring HIV, through research, education, and policy advocacy.


Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0318)

NCLR supports the DC DECRIMNOW Campaign to pass the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0318), which would decriminalize consensual sex work for those who are 18 years of age or older and create a task force to monitor the implementation and effects of the act. NCLR has been an active member of the camaign by helping to lead the efforts to build support for the legislation by moblizing LGBTQ organizations and educating the DC LGBTQ community on the need for sex work decriminlization to address the health and saftey concerns facing sex wokers.


SAFE SEX Workers Study Act

NCLR supports the “SESTA/FOSTA Examination of Secondary Effects for Sex Workers Study Act,” or the “SAFE SEX Workers Study Act.” The bill requires a federal study on how losing access to online platforms impacts the health and safety of people in the commercial sex trade.

In 2018, Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, which vastly expanded the civil and criminal liability of websites for hosting information related to the sex trade. In response, dozens of websites closed, displacing sex workers who utilized those websites to earn a living in order to stay housed, fed and safe. The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act seeks to understand the collateral consequences of the SESTA/FOSTA and other measures to shutdown online platforms.


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.


LGBTQ Rural Pride Campaign

The Rural Pride Campaign elevates and addresses the needs of LGBTQ people living in rural communities across the country. It began in 2014 as a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA no longer partners with NCLR on this campaign, but the work continues.

The goal of the campaign is to challenge the stereotype that LGBTQ people live only in metropolitan areas by elevating the voices and stories of LGBTQ people living in rural America. The campaign also raises awareness of the particular issues faced by LGBTQ rural communities, including increased rates of economic insecurity, lack of family protections, lack of nondiscrimination protections, and the heightened challenges facing rural LGBTQ youth and rural LGBTQ people of color.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a series of day-long summits hosted by NCLR and local partners based in rural communities across the country. These summits focus on the unique needs of the rural LGBTQ community and identify next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.


LGBTQ Family Law Institute

The LGBTQ Family Law Institute is a joint venture of NCLR and the LGBTQ Bar. The Family Law Institute allows experienced LGBTQ family law practitioners to share collective wisdom and to discuss cutting-edge legal strategies for representing members of the LGBTQ community. Members of the Family Law Institute convene in person annually and collaborate regularly via an online listserve. To find out more about membership or to see a directory of Family Law Institute member attorneys, please visit the LGBTQ Bar.


The Whole Youth Model

NCLR partners with Ceres Policy Research on the “Whole Youth Model,” an approach to serving youth in the justice system that prioritizes health and well-being over punishment and surveillance. Project staff provide training and technical assistance to participating jurisdictions, emphasizing the importance of collecting and analyzing data on the sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and race/ethnicity of each youth, among other aspects of their identity. The model is based on the premise that public safety is furthered by authentic conversations with young people and individualized responses tailored to their unique strengths and needs.


Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth Certificate Program

NCLR and Ceres Policy Research partner with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University to present an annual certificate program, “Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth.” Multidisciplinary teams from jurisdictions across the country participate in a week-long intensive program designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to implement a Capstone Project in their communities to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth.


getREAL National

NCLR is a partner in the getREAL (Recognize. Engage. Affirm. Love.) project, a national initiative sponsored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The getREAL collaborative works to transform child welfare policy nationally to promote the healthy development of LGBTQ and gender expansive youth through working intensively with sites, supporting a national professional network and developing research-based knowledge in the child welfare field.


getREAL California

NCLR is a partner in getREAL (Recognize. Engage. Affirm. Love) California, a collaboration with the Center on the Study of Social Policy, Family Builders by Adoption, and the RISE Initiative of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center. The focus of the work is to integrate sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) into the state’s Continuum of Care Reform and the state law requiring child welfare agencies to collect SOGIE data.


TGNC Youth in Confinement Facilities

NCLR received support from the National Prison Rape Elimination Act Resource Center (PRC) to develop a model policy for confinement facilities housing transgender, gender nonconforming and intersex youth. NCLR and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy worked with a diverse group of youth justice stakeholders, including advocates for TGNCI communities, formerly incarcerated young people, facility personnel, and youth justice practitioners from across the country. Together, we produced the model policy which was published by the PRC. Based on the policy, NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center created a checklist for juvenile defenders to help juvenile defenders advocate for the safety and well-being of TGNCI youth in secure and non-secure facilities.


Medicare for All

On February 27, 2019, Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R.1384/S.1804) to establish a national health insurance program to combat the high costs of healthcare and health-related services for all U.S. residents. The Medicare for All Act would provide guaranteed access to affordable healthcare for all persons living in the U.S. Establishing an universal healthcare system is a top priority for LGBTQ people, because they are less likely to have health insurance than non-LGBTQ people.


upEND Movement

NCLR supports the upEND movement to end the current child welfare system and replace it with a system that focuses on keeping children safe with their families, rather than on separating and regulating families of color. The existing child welfare system disproportionately surveils and separates Black, Native, and LGBTQ families, as well as families whose members have disabilities, causing deep and lasting harm to children and families. Racism is so deeply rooted in child welfare systems’ history, policies, and practices that they are not easily modified or revised. Rather, the system as we know it has to be ended in order to ensure racial equity. The upEND movement was begun by the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

More Advisory Committee

NCLR is a member of the Advisory Committee for Surrogacy360, which seeks to provide acurate information for intended parents seeking to use surrogacy internationally in an ethical manner. NCLR does not generally recommend that U.S. parents engage in surrogacy arrangements outside of the United States because of the danger that children born through surrogacy may not be recognized as U.S. citizens and encourages parents to consult with experienced surrogacy and immigration attorneys in the U.S. before considering surrogacy abroad.

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