Kenneth D. Upton, Jr.

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Kenneth D. Upton, Jr. is Senior Counsel located in the South Central Regional Office of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV.

With more than 25 years of trial and appellate experience in state and federal courts across the country, Ken has served on the governing council of the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and, in 2008, was the recipient of that section’s Norman W. Black Award in recognition of his significant contributions to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and HIV legal issues.

Lambda Legal cases in which Ken has appeared as counsel of record include:

  • East v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (challenging the policy decision of Louisiana’s largest healthcare insurers to eliminate people living with HIV from their policies by refusing to accept Federal Ryan White premium assistance funds for lower-income individuals);
  • Freeman v. Parker (fighting to protect equal spousal benefits for employees of the City of Houston, Texas, who are legally married to their same-sex spouses)
  • Gill v. Tarrant County Community College District (holding that qualified immunity is not available to officials of a public employer who discriminate based on sexual orientation in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment);
  • Berwick v. Wagner (companion cases establishing the right to register a California parentage judgment in Texas under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and upholding the right of parents under that judgment to be recognized, in conformity with full faith and credit principles, as legal parents in a subsequent custody suit)
  • Varnum v. Brien (Lambda Legal’s landmark Iowa Supreme Court marriage victory)
  • Lopez v. River Oaks (resulting in the first federal district court in the Fifth Circuit to recognize a Title VII claim on behalf of transgender woman denied employment)
  • Adar v. Smith (seeking to require the Louisiana Department of Health to respect adoptions by same-sex couples in other states) and Finstuen v. Crutcher (striking down Oklahoma's unconstitutional adoption invalidation law)
  • Franke v. Parkstone Living Center (representing a 72-year-old minister evicted by an Arkansas assisted living facility because he has HIV)
  • Ralph v. City of New Orleans (upholding the city’s domestic partner registry and health insurance coverage for same-sex partners of city employees)
  • Moreau v. Qwest Communications (testing the reach of Denver’s antidiscrimination ordinance for workplace harassment and retaliation based on sexual orientation).