Jennifer C. Pizer
Law and Policy Project Director
Western Regional Office
Jennifer C. Pizer is Law and Policy Project Director for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV. Based in Lambda Legal's Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, Pizer has long been a leading voice for ending marriage discrimination against lesbian and gay couples. She was co-counsel in the litigation that won marriage equality for same-sex couples in California in 2008, and then protected the marriages 18,000 lesbian and gay couples celebrated in California before passage of Proposition 8.
Pizer also handled cases to advance domestic partner protections and the rights of lesbian and gay parents, and to end sexual orientation discrimination in employment, education, health care and housing. She was lead counsel in litigation against Hawai'i Governor Linda Lingle to win civil unions protections for same-sex couples there, despite that state's constitutional amendment denying marriage. She was co-counsel for 10 Arizona state workers suing Governor Jan Brewer to retain health coverage for their same-sex life partners. She also represented Karen Golinski against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, seeking compliance with multiple decisions by Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Kozinski that excluding Golinski's wife from her family health insurance plan is unlawful discrimination.
Pizer represented Guadalupe Benitez against her former physicians for withholding medical treatment because she is a lesbian, winning a unanimous California Supreme Court decision that constitutional protections for religious liberty do not authorize health professionals to violate the state's civil rights law. She represented Lydia Ramos in her successful court fight to retrieve her daughter after homophobic relatives took the child following the death of Lydia's life partner, and Keith Bradkowski, a gay man whose partner was killed on September 11, in his struggle for fair treatment from assistance programs. She also has been involved in multiple cases before the California and Washington Supreme Courts that successfully affirmed the legal ties between lesbian and gay parents and their children.
Pizer also advises policymakers on protecting same-sex couples and their families. She co-drafted AB 205, California's broad Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, and later bills to clarify and expand the rights of registered domestic partners in California, and has assisted lawmakers in many other states and nationally with similar issues. She also consults with government officials on ensuring that public employers and contractors offer equal benefits to all workers with families, without exclusions based on marital status or sexual orientation. In addition, Pizer helps governments defend their domestic partner programs and laws against attacks by religious conservative groups, and was co-counsel in the successful defense of AB 205 against two such lawsuits.
Pizer is a frequent advocate for LGBT family equality in academic and public settings, and is often quoted by the national media. She repeatedly has been named one of the top women litigators in California, and has received numerous professional achievement and community service awards.
Pizer is a 1987 graduate of New York University School of Law and a 1982 honors graduate of Harvard College, and has taught at USC Law School, Loyola Law School and Whittier Law School. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, she practiced intellectual property and business torts litigation with Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP in San Francisco, was legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League, and served as a judicial clerk to the Hon. Ann Aldrich of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Lambda Legal Applauds Minnesota in Granting Same-Sex Couples the Freedom to Marry >
Lambda Legal Rebuffs Arizona Attorney General: Urges Cities to Protect Unmarried Couples >
Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in DOMA Challenge >
Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Case Challenging California's Discriminatory Prop 8 >