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Momentum: Moving Equality Forward

Building a movement takes time and dedication. In 2013, some of our community’s greatest victories were a direct result of Lambda Legal’s long-term commitment to equality and the enduring legacy of our earlier wins.

Lawrence to DOMA

2003: Decriminalizing Gay

On June 26, 2003, the Supreme Court overturned all remaining state sodomy laws, decriminalizing the private lives of lesbians and gay men, in Lambda Legal’s Lawrence v. Texas case. Lawrence reversed an earlier decision from the Court, issued only 10 years earlier.


2013: DOMA's Demise

Over the last 10 years, Lawrence has been cited in hundreds of cases, including this summer’s Supreme Court decision ruling Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. Lawrence has become the cornerstone for legal advocacy on behalf of LGBT people.

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Hawaii Momentum

2008: California Marriage

In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry is unconstitutional in a case brought by Lambda Legal and our partners.


2013: Overtuning H8

In June, the Supreme Court invalidated California’s Proposition 8, re-establishing the marriage equality victory that Lambda Legal and our partners won in 2008.

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Momentum NJ

2002: Garden State Fight

In 2002, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit for marriage equality in New Jersey. In 2006, the NJ Supreme Court ordered the state to provide all the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. The State of New Jersey enacted an unequal system of civil unions. In 2011, Lambda Legal filed a new lawsuit arguing that the State of New Jersey was not providing equal protection as ordered by the state Supreme Court.


2013: New Jersey Win

In 2013, Lambda Legal immediately used the momentum of the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA to argue in court that NJ same-sex couples were being further harmed. In October 2013, the state dropped it's challenge of our case after a court ruled in favor of marriage equality and the New Jersey Supreme Court refused to stay the decision. After an 11-year battle in the courts, New Jersey becomes the 14th state to enact marriage equality.

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Momentum Youth

2000: Setting a Standard

On February 4, 2000, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the Orange Unified School District to allow a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) to meet, in Lambda Legal’s Colin v. Orange Unified School District case. This historic decision is the first to order a school district to allow a GSA to meet.


2013: The Right to Speak (or not)

Today, Lambda Legal continues to fight for LGBTQ students who are denied their First Amendment rights at school. Over the last few years, including 2013, Lambda Legal represented students who were forbidden by their schools to participate in GLSEN’s National Day of Silence.

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Momentum Trans Rights

2008: An Activist Emerges 

In 2008, Lambda Legal sued the Georgia General Assembly on behalf of Vandy Beth Glenn, a legislative editor who was fired after she announced her intention to transition from male to female. In a landmark victory, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Vandy Beth was discriminated against in Glenn v. Brumby. In 2012, Vandy Beth testified before a Senate committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).      


2013: Protecting Workers

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission relied on Glenn v. Brumby to establish that Title VII protects transgender employees. In 2013, this ruling helped Lambda Legal secure a landmark settlement on behalf of a transgender woman in South Dakota who lost her job after announcing her transition. In November the U.S. Senate passed an inclusive ENDA.

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Momentum BSA

1992: Challenging the Ban

In 1992, Lambda Legal filed a landmark case on behalf of Eagle Scout James Dale against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), after the BSA barred Dale from continuing to serve as an assistant scout troop leader because he is gay. In 2000, the  Supreme Court ruled in favor of the BSA. Despite the loss at the Supreme Court, Lambda Legal continued to lead a national discussion on the BSA’s discriminatory policy.



2013: Scouting's Small Steps

As a result of Lambda Legal's continuing efforts, many parents, churches, corporations and cities severed financial ties with the Boy Scouts of America. In 2013, BSA lifted its ban on gay scouts, but unfortunately continues to maintain a ban on openly gay leaders.

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Momentum Hawaii

1993: Pioneering Marriage

20 years ago, in Hawai’i, Lambda Legal joined the early fight for marriage equality. Our pioneering case, Baehr v. Miike resulted in the first trial court victory for marriage equality. It was the beginning of the freedom to marry movement -- a roller coaster civil rights struggle that began a nationwide debate on the rights of LGBT people.


2013: Aloha Equality

In November, Hawai’i became the 15th state to provide marriage equality. Today, in every state where Lambda Legal’s lawyers and educators were on the ground early -- Hawai’i, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, and California -- marriage equality is a reality, secured through courtroom, legislative and electoral victories.

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With more than 80 open cases on our docket, Lambda Legal's work is far from over. We know how to build a movement and  we know how to win. With your help we can keep the momentum of the last year going -- with your help we can keep equality moving forward.

Keep Moving Forward