• NCLR

National Center for Lesbian Rights

NCLR is proud to support the 2019 LezTalk Dallas Conference! We are excited to be back in Dallas and to deepen our partnerships in the community. Join us for a post-conference Networking Mixer / Happy Hour on Saturday October 19th.


NCLR was founded in 1977 by a young lesbian lawyer, who believed that the courts were a powerful venue for social change. AT the time, the idea that a woman had the right to define herself with dignity and equal opportunity was still openly contested. Women who came out as lesbians were losing custody of their children at epidemic rates. NCLR’s groundbreaking work to protect these women and their families was the genesis of an effort that has created a monumental shift in LGBTQ progress.


Today, 42 years after our founding, the pioneering spirit and unwavering commitment to advance civil and human rights of LGBTQ people continues. Each year, through litigation, public policy, advocacy and public education, NCLR helps more than 5,000 LGBTQ people and their families nationwide. The ripple effect of our work benefits thousands more, establishing legal precedents, policies, and laws that recognize and protect our families and our right to equality under the law. For more than four decades, we have fought and won hundreds of historic cases, and today we are still trailblazing in pursuit of justice, fairness, and legal protections for all LGBTQ people.


NCLR is fighting for full equality and justice for LGBTQ people across a wide spectrum of issues and prioritizes work to ensure that the most vulnerable - including those who are poor, people of color, transgender, and/or living in rural area - have the protections, information and resources to defend their rights. For example, our family law work emphasizes legal and policy strategies that create automatic recognition and protection for family relationships, rather than protections that require proactive actions. As states and localities have resisted the federal imperative to treat married same sex parents and the families the same as different sex parents and families, NCLR has fought back, to ensure that same sex parents are both recognized as parents on their children’s birth certificates. We also bring cases and establish policies that protect unmarried parents and their children.


Our immigration and asylum program addresses the urgent and critical need of LGBTQ asylum seekers and detainees, many of whom have fled life-threatening violence in their countries of origin and who face barriers in the U.S. immigration system, particularly now. Our youth work prioritizes system-engaged LGBTQ youth with a particular focus on the needs of trans youth, who face unique and often overwhelming barriers in both families and sate care. We recognize it is essential to both end discrimination and abuses in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and to keep LGBTQ youth out of these systems. NCLR’s Rural Pride program brings rural LGBTQ people - who are often geographically dispersed - together to identify their needs and strengths, to connect with legal organizations and to build power for change. Our Helpline provides information that empowers people to be their own advocates - helping them know their rights, navigate legal situations, and connect with local attorneys and resources. Our trainings for legal aid organizations are particularly focused on empowering community-based organizations to become fully welcoming and competent places that can truly embrace and effectively assist low income LGBTQ community members.


NCLR’s overarching strategic approach involves advocating for inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and for family protections that are automatic rather than requiring affirmative legal action. We also advocate and litigate against structures that require LGBTQ people to surmount additional hurdles in order to be treated equally. For example, in family law, NCLR pushes for laws that automatically recognize parentage and de facto relationships, rather than forcing people to consult a lawyer or file paperwork to have these relationships recognized. This approach removes burdens from low-income and other particularly vulnerable groups in affected communities. NCLR also recognizes that protecting families and relationships is vital to the empowerment of LGBTQ people. NCLR’s impact litigation offers a way for individuals to turn their experience of discrimination into an opportunity for justice not only for themselves but for the wider community through legal precedent and public education.


Shannon Minter, NCLR’s Legal Director, will be presenting on the Changemakers Panel at the LezTalk conference. He is an expert in LGBTQ law and has been leading NCLR’s legal strategy for more than two decades. Please join us to hear updates on NCLR’s work!

If you would like to know more about any of these areas, please reach out to Elizabeth Lanyon: ELanyon@nclrights.org

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