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Lambda Legal Of Counsel: Insight for the Legal Community

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Jon Davidson.

Opening Statement
by Jon W. Davidson
Legal Director

At a rally protesting Prop. 8, I saw a sign that read, "The Gay Agenda: (1) Equality; (2) See #1." It's so true — but how does Lambda Legal turn that overarching goal into a docket?

We choose cases we believe will have the greatest impact on the rights of LGBT people and those living with HIV. We consider the opportunity each case presents for developing positive precedent, bringing about institutional reform and shaping public opinion on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV issues. We keep in focus how many people an issue affects and how important it is in the lives of the geographically and demographically diverse communities we serve, especially those who are most vulnerable due to multiple forms of discrimination, limited means or other challenges that make obtaining legal assistance difficult.

Some cases are particularly important because they reach people’s hearts, like our lawsuit seeking justice for Janice Langbehn — whom a Florida hospital kept from being with her dying partner. Some bring about institutional change, like Lorenzo Taylor’s lawsuit that ended the ban on hiring people with HIV into the U.S. Foreign Service. Some cases effect sweeping law reform, like our Lawrence v. Texas victory that struck down all state sodomy laws and established that the constitutional right to liberty protects couples’ intimate relationships. And some affect multitudes in critically important ways, like our marriage equality litigation in California and Iowa.

If you become aware of potential or pending cases in which we could make these kinds of differences, please have those involved contact our Legal Help Desk. With your help, we can continue to move that agenda of equality forward.

Legal Landscape

Highlighted Cases from this Issue

Legal Landscape map.

Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial (Florida)

Taylor v. Rice (Washington D.C.)

Lawrence v. Texas (Texas)

Finstuen v. Edmondson (Oklahoma)

Adar v. Smith (Louisiana)

Giancaspro v. Congleton (Michigan)

Varnum v. Brien (Iowa)

Glenn v. Brumby (Georgia)

In re Marriage Cases (California)

Our Social Networks
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Vol 5, No 4

Camila Taylor.

Gay v. Gay Custody Battles
by Camilla Taylor
Senior Staff Attorney

Child custody cases are among the most tragic on our docket. Each involves a child or children whose world has turned upside down while parents battle with each other over issues such as child support or visitation. Regardless of whether a case involves gay or non-gay parents, children often suffer terribly when parents go to court because they cannot agree on how to resolve their dispute over child custody.

However, children of gay or lesbian parents whose families break down face unique challenges as a result of a patchwork of varying antigay laws from state to state. Additionally, courts in some states are unwilling to recognize that a child may have two parents of the same sex, or may be hesitant to award custody or visitation to a person who has reared a child from birth as his or her parent, but who has neither a biological nor adoptive relationship to the child. The children in these families are exceptionally vulnerable. In the past year and a half, Lambda Legal lawyers have appeared in cases to protect a child’s relationship to a lesbian or gay parent in numerous states including Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Louisiana and West Virginia.

Intersection of Policy & Law

School desks.

Legislative efforts at reform often follow our litigation, as one might expect. However, there are some less obvious ways that litigation can be of particular relevance when plaintiffs are able to testify directly in front of lawmakers.

Pro Bono Honors

Statue holding laural wreath.

Lambda Legal honors Robert Welsh and Seph McNamara of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Los Angeles for their years of exceptional work on behalf of our client Lupita Benitez in Benitez v. North Coast Women's Care Medical Group. These dedicated attorneys and many of their O’Melveny & Myers colleagues have been instrumental partners during our six years of representing Ms. Benitez, who was denied infertility treatment because she is a lesbian and her doctors claimed their religious beliefs allowed them to withhold care from her that they routinely provide to heterosexual patients. With the help of Welsh, McNamara and the O’Melveny & Myers team, we secured a unanimous decision from the California Supreme Court that health care providers must treat lesbian and gay patients equally regardless of the providers’ personal religious beliefs.

Lambda Legal News

Lambda Legal Joins Fair Wisconsin in Fight to Save Legal Protections for Same-Sex Couples and Their Families
Read more

Lambda Legal Client to Testify at ENDA Hearing Wednesday
Read more

Lambda Legal Calls for Swift Passage of Respect for Marriage Act
Read more

Cooperating Attorney Network

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Join Lambda Legal's Cooperating Attorney Network and help protect the rights of LGBT people and people with HIV. From providing advice and assistance to people who call Lambda Legal's Help Desks to playing a role in cutting-edge impact litigation, Lambda Legal's Cooperating Attorneys are indispensable members of our team.

Lambda Legal's Docket

scales of justice.

Explore our listing of both open and closed cases, along with pleadings, briefs and press releases. Lambda Legal's docket includes cases from each of our program areas such as family law, HIV discrimination, youth and schools, relationship recognition and employment discrimination.

Support Lambda Legal today.
Make a donation and support Lambda Legal's groundbreaking impact litigation, public education and advocacy work.


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