Legislation & Policy


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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.


Women’s Health Protection Act

The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is a federal bill that, if passed, would establish a statutory right for healthcare providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion care without medically unnecessary restrictions, limitations, and bans that single out abortion and impede access to care. The bill would put a stop to harmful restrictions and bans, and it would protect the right to access abortion care for all, no matter where someone happens to live. With the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade, passing WHPA is more important than ever.

In the 118th Congress, WHPA is led by Senator Tammy Baldwin in the Senate and Representative Judy Chu in the House. In March of 2023, NCLR led a letter signed by 57 LGBTQI+ organizations in support of WHPA.



Equality Act

URGENT ACTION: Tell Your Senators to Vote for the Equality Act!

The Equality Act (H.R. 5) would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public accommodations (things like restaurants, hotels, and theaters), and jury service. It would also prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in programs receiving federal funding. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in the last Congress in May 2019 with a bipartisan vote of 236 to 173 but was blocked from consideration in the Senate by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The bill was reintroduced by Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) in the 117th Session of the United States Congress on February 18, 2021. A vote is expected in the House shortly, with action following soon after in the Senate.

NCLR has played a leading role in drafting the Equality Act and working for its eventual passage. We have partnered with Black and Pink and others to educate Congress and the public on the Act’s potential to reform the U.S. criminal legal system for LGBTQ people and people of color.

Currently, only 22 states have non-discrimination protections that fully protect LGBTQ individuals. According to the Center for American Progress, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans have reported facing some form of discrimination within the past year, with the number increasing to 3 in 5 for transgender individuals. This discrimination often causes substantial harm to the psychological and economic wellbeing of the LGBTQ community and creates undue difficulties for many LGBTQ people in accessing medically necessary healthcare – most dramatically for the transgender population and people of color.

The most recent polling from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that more than 80 percent of all Americans (including a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans) support comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that include LGBTQ individuals. FiveThirtyEight has also similarly found that President Biden’s executive order mandating that federal agencies implement the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County in nondiscrimination policies was the most popular of his early executive actions, with the support of an overwhelming 83% of Americans.

More than 600 national, state, and local organizations have signed on to urge the swift passage of the Equality Act, in addition to a broad coalition of faith-based groups and 335 major corporations, showing the breadth of support the legislation has maintained since its passage in the House in 2019. NCLR is a member of the Freedom and Opportunity for All coalition (along with 16 other partner organizations) advocating for the urgent passage of the Equality Act.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


LGBTQ Family Law Institute

NCLR Family Law Institute Logo

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.


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.


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.


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.


California Assembly Bill 2085

Children of color are significantly more likely to be reported for allegations of abuse and neglect, despite the vast majority of those allegations being unfounded or unsubstantiated. LGBTQ parents of color are even more likely to lose custody of their children through the child welfare system. Even when families are not separated by the system, unnecessary investigation and surveillance of families by the system harms children by disrupting family dynamics and stability. Mandated reporters of possible child abuse and neglect are currently required to report families impacted by poverty. NCLR supports AB 2085, which would change the requirements for California mandated reporters of possible child neglect to reduce the number of families unnecessarily swept into the child welfare system simply based on poverty or bias.


California Youth Bill of Rights

NCLR is co-sponsoring and supporting California’s Juvenile Youth Bill of Rights, AB 2417. AB 2417 would expand the Juvenile Youth Bill of Rights protections to all youth in California including those in county run facilities. Currently, the Juvenile Youth Bill of Rights only covers youth in DJJ facilities in California which are due to close by 2023. Youth Bill of Rights, AB 2417 includes protections against discrimination based on gender expression and immigration status, timely access to restroom facilities, clean clothing (including, clean underwear) and education access.


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.

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