National Center for Lesbian Rights

Legislation & Policy


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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.


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.


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.


Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act (H.R. 2415/ S. 1243)

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act makes would make needed reforms to the U.S. immigration system, including ending mandatory detention, ensuring that only those who are a threat to the community are detained and creating a presumption of release, establishing a presumption that vulnerable individuals–including LGBTQ individuals, young people, and victims of crimes–should be placed in community-based supervision programs rather than detention facilities, removing the minimum bond amount of $1,500 for release, requiring immigration judges to consider an individual’s ability to pay when setting a bond, and other changes.



In late-2017 to early-2018, NCLR led the LGBTQ coalition advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act to provide permanent legal protections for undocumented people who arrived in the U.S. at an early age (“Dreamers”). In June 2019, The House passed the DREAM and Promise Act, which provides a pathway for citizenship for Dreamers and holders of Temporary Protected Status. The Senate has not voted on the bill.



The FAMILY Act would establish a national paid leave insurance program. Specifically, it would provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of partial income to address their own serious health condition, including pregnancy or childbirth; to deal with the serious health condition of a parent, spouse, domestic partner or child; to care for a new child; and/or specific military care-giving and leave purposes.


Housing Equality

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has always been committed to the principle that sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status should never impact access to housing for people and their families. NCLR’s policy and legislative efforts on equal access to housing have focused on ensuring that all LGBTQ people and families have access to safe, affordable, and fair housing in whatever community they choose to live. Our work has included partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the White House, and other agencies charged with administering housing programs and services to prohibit discrimination in housing.

NCLR has likewise been dedicated to decreasing instances of homelessness and housing insecurity in the LGBTQ community, particularly among LGBTQ youth. Studies estimate that up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. NCLR is committed to finding legislative and policy solutions that target this epidemic. This has included working closely with HUD, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other agencies to raise awareness of the prevalence of homelessness in the LGBTQ community and advocate for regulatory changes to address it.


LGBTQ Prisoner Advocacy

NCLR works at the local, state and federal levels to ensure that LGBTQ prisoners are as safely housed as possible and have access to life-saving medical care.

LGBTQ people housed in prisons and jails face dire problems related to their sexuality and gender identity. They are often placed in segregated housing “for their own protection,” which deprives them of jobs, education, and other programming that could shorten their sentences and better prepare them for release.

When prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, they typically spend 23 hours a day alone in their cells with only an hour to exercise or bathe (also alone). Solitary confinement is extremely dangerous to prisoners’ mental health. Transgender prisoners also encounter serious problems obtaining hormones and other medical care, and are at extreme risk of being sexually assaulted by staff or other inmates.

We will continue to work with local, state, and federal officials to ensure that LGBTQ prisoners are as safe as possible, that transgender prisoners are housed in accordance with their gender identity, and that LGBTQ prisoners have access to proper medical care.


Raise the Wage Act

The Raise the Wage Act would raise the federal minimum wage in stages over the next six years until it reaches $15. After six years, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually to keep pace with growth in the typical worker’s wages.

An increase in the federal minimum wage would help the LGBTQ community, especially its most marginalized members. The Williams Institute estimates incomes would rise above poverty level for nearly 30,000 people in same-sex relationships. Raising the minimum wage to $15 would decrease poverty by almost 50% among female same-sex couples and by 35% among male same-sex couples. In June 2019, The U.S. House passed the bill. The Senate not has taken action on the bill.


LGBTQ Summit North Dakota

In October 2019, NCLR jointly organized the LGBTQ Summit North Dakota, with Dakota Outright, and North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. Other organizations participating in the summit included Red River Rainbow Seniors, the Pride Collective, the Equality Federation, the Human Rights and American Campaign, the ACLU, and the Trevor Project Foundation for Suicide Prevention. One focus of the summit was youth, and a number of students from several GSAs in the state also participated in the summit and gave a keynote panel about their work.


Rural Pride Summit Vermont

In April 2018, NCLR and Green Mountain Crossroads hosted a Rural Pride Summit in Vermont. Other participating organizations included Outright Vermont, Vermont Legal Aid, Safe Harbor for Trans Teens, Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Vermont Cares, Pride Center of Vermont, Just Roots Farm, Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, and Vermont Psychiatric Survivors. Elected officials Bill Lippert and Becca Balint also participated, along with representatives from the offices of Rep. Welch and Sen. Sanders.

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