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Marriage & Relationships

After marriage equality, LGBTQ people still face significant discrimination related to their relationships and families. Many states still do not treat same-sex spouses equally in every respect, and unmarried partners in most states lack full protections. NCLR works to ensure that marriage equality is a reality for same-sex spouses, including access to common law marriages, and to advance laws protecting unmarried partners.

NCLR represented the Tennessee plaintiffs in the marriage equality cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as counsel in many of the state marriage equality cases. After achieving marriage equality, NCLR has continued our work to ensure that all relationships and families are recognized and free from discrimination.


Legislation & Policy

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.


Cases & Advocacy

Reed v. KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan


On August 9, 2016, the widower of a former KRON4 employee sued Young Broadcasting of San Francisco and the KRON/IBEW Local 45 Pension Plan for refusing to provide him with a spousal pension benefit even though the couple were registered domestic partners.



Press Release

Missouri Lesbian Couple Settles Discrimination Suit Against Senior Housing Community

December 8, 2020. Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), along with co-counsel Relman Colfax PLLC,  St. Louis LGBTQ civil rights attorney Arlene Zarembka, and the ACLU of Missouri announced the settlement of Walsh v. Friendship Village of South County, a housing discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit – filed on behalf of Mary Walsh and Bev Nance – alleged that Friendship Village Sunset Hills violated the federal Fair Housing Act when it denied Mary and Bev a unit in the senior housing community because they are a lesbian couple.


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