Charity Profile: Lambda Legal
Earlier this year, Lambda Legal scored a groundbreaking victory in the U.S. courts. In response to a lawsuit filed in Idaho by the civil rights organization on behalf of two transgender women, a U.S. District Court judge ordered Idaho state officials to allow transgender people born in the state to apply their correct gender markers to their birth certificates. Though a ruling of deep impact, this type of fight is business as usual for Lambda Legal, which is no stranger to challenging archaic and discriminatory statutes in its pursuit of equality.
Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest legal organization working toward full recognition of the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and people living with HIV across the United States. “At Lambda Legal, we imagine a world without discrimination and inequality, and we work to achieve that vision every day,” says Jonathan Adams, Lambda’s communications director. “We make the case for equality in the nation’s courts and in the court of public opinion.”
What began as a handful of volunteers working out of an apartment room in New York City has grown into a national organization with six offices in cities across the country staffed by a highly qualified team of more than 100. The organization remains tireless in its fight of civil rights for all LGBTQ people in every U.S. state, offering legal representation free of charge and advocating for public policy that will improve the lives of LGBT people and their families at the local, state and federal levels. And this year, it is one of our official Negroni Week Charity Partners. “Fundraising initiatives like Negroni Week make our work possible,” says Adams. “We do not charge our plaintiffs. We receive no government funding—in fact, we frequently sue the government.”
Mere decades ago, LGBTQ people and those living with HIV went unrecognized by the laws that govern the U.S., resulting in extreme prejudice that would often manifest in places of work. Even Lambda Legal’s founder, Bill Thom, found his initial application to establish the legal fund shot down by a panel of judges who cited the mission as “neither benevolent nor charitable.” Thus, Lambda Legal became its own first client. “LGBT people have long struggled under a patchy and unclear web of legal protections in the workplace. Together with your support, we’re changing the game,” says Adams. “We intend once and for all to make it clearly illegal for colleagues and superiors to intimidate, threaten and terminate workers because of who they love and who they are.”
Though the work ahead won’t be easy, it never has been and Lambda Legal won’t quit until full equality is achieved. “We will not go back into the closet,” says Adams. “We will not disappear. We will protect marriage equality. We will win freedom from workplace discrimination. And our battle for equality and justice will prevail in the end.”
Story by Emma Mannheimer / Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal