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    NCLR Embarks on a New Chapter

    By Cindy L. Myers, PhD–

    I’m so humbled and honored to be writing this letter, as NCLR’s Interim Executive Director, that I’m near to speechless. This job is so much more than a job—it’s a covenant with a community; a promise that I will steward this incredible organization in the very best way I can, for all our sakes. Someone told me once that “anxiety” and “excitement” are very nearly the same thing in the brain. Somewhere in between the two, that’s where my feelings live about this awesome responsibility at this momentous moment in time.

    I’m excited because NCLR is embarking on a new chapter in leadership and the possibilities seem endless. Our Board of Directors is taking a very methodical approach to selecting its next Executive Director. While they embark on a national search, my job is to keep the wheels turning and make any adaptations to our operations that might better enable a new leader to land here smoothly and experience success.

    I’m anxious because the winds blow cold in some quarters of our world. The trans-military ban is in effect. The Trump Administration has announced that it will withdraw provisions for transgender health care from the Health and Human Services Administration’s budget. LGBTQ+ are subjected to violence all around the world—and seeking asylum here is now harder than ever.

    This is the yin and yang of NCLR: it’s simultaneously wonderful and scary to view the world from this seat. And there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.

    The power to conquer the threats and own this moment lives within US. US is more than just me and you; US is greater than the sum of our parts. Everyone at NCLR is driving a part of the work—the staff, the supporters, the Board, the plaintiffs in our cases, the partners we work with. Together we are accomplishing near miracles. (Think: Two weeks after filing suit, the Arizona Legislature repealed a law that prohibited positive references to LGBTQ+ people and issues. TWO WEEKS!) Together we are facing down a hostile federal administration and, issue by issue, securing our rights. The sum total of US is a strong, diverse and vibrant community with history on its side and the best legal talent in the country taking on LGBTQ+ bigotry and winning.

    The transgender military ban is a setback, true—but in the long run, we see victory in the offing. Because we managed to stave off enactment of that ban for two years, we consider the glass half full. We won’t quit until our trans brothers and sisters can serve openly and enjoy the same responsibilities and privileges their cis counterparts enjoy. As long as NCLR is on the case, winning is just a matter of time.

    So, when we welcome our new Executive Director in January 2020, I will hand them the reins of this movement-leading organization with a long and rich history of ass-kickery. When we meet in May for our 42nd Anniversary Gala, we will celebrate the victory of freedom over tyranny; of hope over circumstance; of love over hate.

    Your role in this is vital. Your support, your ideas, your presence in this movement are essential to NCLR and the ass-kicking yet to come. I want to see you on the dance floor May 18th, celebrating your own bad-assery and reveling in the energy that is NCLR. It’s going to be a night to remember!

     

     

     


     

    Timeline of NCLR’s History & Victories

    Below are just some of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ (NCLR) accomplishments over the years.

    1994—NCLR dramatically expands its advocacy on behalf of LGBT immigrants with the launch of its Immigration Project, becoming the first national LGBT legal organization to do so.

    1996—NCLR represents a lesbian mother in Florida in a precedent-setting case holding that courts must not base custody decisions on stereotypes about lesbian and gay parents.

    1999—NCLR is the first LGBT legal organization to launch a permanent Elder Law Project as the first wave of baby boomers become senior citizens.

    2000—In a powerful decision that adopts many of the arguments put forward by NCLR in an amicus brief, the Ninth Circuit awards asylum to a gay man from Mexico and holds that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic.

    2001—NCLR becomes the first national LGBT legal organization to launch a Transgender Law Project.

    2001—NCLR is the first national LGBT organization to tackle the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sports with the launch of its Sports Project.

    2001—NCLR wins a landmark wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Sharon Smith against the owners of two vicious dogs who killed Sharon’s life partner, Diane Alexis Whipple.

    2002—NCLR wins a victory on behalf of a lesbian mother in Mississippi who lost custody of her child to her former husband who had physically abused and padlocked her in their home.

    2002—NCLR represents Michael Kantaras, a transgender dad in Florida, in a landmark custody and divorce case televised on Court TV.

    2003—NCLR litigates and wins the first school harassment case to involve both lesbian and gay students who were subjected to years of anti-lesbian and anti-gay harassment.

    2005—NCLR wins the first round of the California marriage battle when the San Francisco Superior Court rules that excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry violates the California Constitution.

    2006—NCLR successfully defends the marriage of a Cherokee lesbian couple before the Cherokee Supreme Court.

    2006—NCLR launches the Family Protection Project to improve access to family law services for low-income, same-sex parent families, with a focus on serving families of color.

    2007—In the first lawsuit to shine a public spotlight on pervasive homophobia in women’s sports, NCLR represents Jennifer Harris, a former college basketball star, in a discrimination case against Penn State and former coach Rene Portland.

    2007—NCLR represents a gay couple in a landmark victory against an internet adoption business that discriminates against same-sex couples and single parents.

    2007—NCLR and California Rural Legal Assistance launch another first-of-its-kind project, Proyecto Poderoso/Project Powerful, to improve legal services for low-income LGBT farm workers and people in rural California.

    2008—NCLR is lead counsel in the historic case in which the California Supreme Court rules the state can no longer exclude same-sex couples from marriage, including holding that LGBT people are entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, the first time any high court has ever done so.

    2008—The day after passage of California’s Proposition 8, NCLR files a legal challenge with the California Supreme Court.

    2009—NCLR wins a case that establishes that Florida must give full faith and credit to all adoptions, including second-parent adoptions, granted to same-sex couples by other states.

    2009—NCLR’s Legal Director Shannon Minter testifies in the first-ever congressional hearing on gender identity discrimination.

    2010—NCLR represents Clay Greene, an elderly man forcefully removed from the Northern California home he shared with his long-time partner after he was hospitalized, eventually settling the case for $600,000.

    2010—NCLR wins a U.S. Supreme Court case upholding the right of colleges and universities to enforce non-discrimination policies that protect LGBT students.

    2011—NCLR client Vanessa Adams settles with Federal Bureau of Prisons, establishing major changes in transgender medical policy for those in federal facilities.

    2011—NCLR prevents state officials from separating and denying health care rights to an elderly lesbian couple in rural Florida.

    2011—NCLR successfully settles a federal case on behalf of two lesbian high school seniors in Minnesota, enabling them to walk together in “royalty court” procession.

    2011—NCLR wins 20 asylum cases on behalf of LGBT people facing unspeakable discrimination, harassment and violence in their countries of origin.

    2011—NCLR drafts comments on behalf of over 30 organizations successfully persuading the Department of Housing and Urban Development to include LGBT people and families in their housing benefits and programs.

    2011—NCLR convinces the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in the new state healthcare exchanges.

    2012—NCLR’s 35th anniversary

    2012—NCLR drafts and helps to pass California’s Senate Bill 1172, the first law in the country to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

    2012 – NCLR wins a case in New Mexico establishing that unmarried non-biological mothers can be recognized as parents under New Mexico’s parentage statutes.

    2013—NCLR works with New Jersey leaders to pass the second bill of its kind in the country protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy.

    2013—NCLR wins a New Mexico marriage equality case; files marriage cases in Tennessee and Idaho; and begins representing plaintiffs in Utah.

    2013—Along with members of NCLR’s National Family Law Advisory Council, NCLR staff helps to draft legislation in Delaware and Nevada allowing all intended parents, including unmarried parents and intended single parents, to conceive through surrogacy.

    2014—NCLR launches its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy nationwide by 2019.

    2014—NCLR drafts and helps to pass California’s Senate Bill 274, the first comprehensive statute in the country explicitly allowing children to have more than two legally recognized parents in limited circumstances.

    2014—The U.S. Supreme Court declines review of NCLR’s Utah marriage case, resulting in marriages beginning in the state and several other states within days of the decision.

    2014—Washington, D.C., is the third jurisdiction in the country to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy; #BornPerfect leaders testify before the U.N.

    2015—NCLR represents marriage plaintiffs in Alabama, Idaho, Florida, Tennessee, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota.

    2015—#BornPerfect helps to pass laws protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in two more states, Oregon and Illinois.

    2015—The U.S. Supreme Court grants review of NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case, along with cases from three other states.

    2015—History is made with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality nationwide after hearing NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states.

    2015—NCLR launches the #Equality4Families campaign to raise awareness about the need to update family laws across the country to fully protect LGBT parents and their children.

    2015—NCLR launches its Transgender Youth Project to assist transgender youth and their families in navigating through the legal system to secure their rights.

    2016—NCLR spearheads a groundbreaking Federal Trade Commission complaint targeting conversion therapy as consumer fraud.

     2017—In July, NCLR filed a complaint against a Berkeley therapist for discredited conversion therapy; NCLR prevailed on this matter in 2018.

    2017—NCLR and GLAD file Doe v. Trump, the first lawsuit filed to stop the ban of transgender troops from military service, challenging its constitutionality and requesting that the court issue a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop it from taking effect while the case is being heard in court.

    2019 so far—#BornPerfect helps to pass laws protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion in a total of 16 states (New Jersey, California, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts), in addition to Puerto Rico and D.C.