Omar Gonzalez-Pagan

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Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is a Senior Attorney and the Health Care Strategist at 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 individuals living with HIV. He has played an instrumental role in advancing the civil and constitutional rights of LGBT people under the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws regarding education, employment, health care, and housing.

As a member of the legal team in Obergefell v. Hodges, Gonzalez-Pagan helped secure marriage equality at the U.S. Supreme Court while representing four same-sex couples seeking respect for their out-of-state marriages and accurate birth certificates for their Ohio-born children. He was also lead counsel in Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz and co-counsel in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, successfully challenging Puerto Rico’s and Louisiana’s marriage bans, respectively.

Gonzalez-Pagan helped secure two landmark decisions—the first and second appellate rulings in the country—holding that Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. As lead counsel in Smith v. Avanti, he also obtained the first court decision in the country holding that the Federal Housing Act’s sex discrimination prohibition covers discrimination against LGBT people.

Gonzalez-Pagan has obtained key legal victories for the rights of transgender students. He was lead counsel in Evancho v. Pine-Richland School District and counsel in Adams v. The School Board of St. Johns County, the first case of its kind to go to trial, holding that the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and Title IX protect transgender students from discrimination in schools (including bathrooms).

As Health Care Strategist, Gonzalez-Pagan has been a leading voice in the proper interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision, particularly as it applies to LGBT people. He has authored numerous amicus briefs urging courts to adopt the most protective standards possible, as he did in Ballenger v. Providence Hospital, and been counsel in Simonson v. Oswego County and Kadel v. Folwell, challenging discriminatory exclusions of coverage for transgender employees’ transition-related health care. Gonzalez-Pagan is also lead counsel in Conforti v. St. Joseph’s Healthcare, where he represents a transgender man denied a hysterectomy by a Catholic hospital. 

Gonzalez-Pagan is also a key architect of Lambda Legal’s efforts to secure the ability of transgender people to obtain accurate identity documents, including birth certificates. Gonzalez-Pagan has served as lead counsel in Arroyo González v. Rosselló Nevares, where he secured the right of transgender people born in Puerto Rico to obtain accurate birth certificates consistent with their gender identity, as well as Foster v. Andersen, and Gore v. Lee, challenging Kansas’s and Tennessee’s discriminatory birth certificate policies.

A former prosecutor, Gonzalez-Pagan successfully represented Thomas Hamm against the City of New York and correctional officers following a brutal attack on Mr. Hamm while he visited his long-time partner, who was incarcerated at Rikers Island. Gonzalez-Pagan also co-authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supporting the constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in United States v. Hill.

Recognized as an emerging leader and passionate advocate for the rights of LGBT people, Gonzalez-Pagan has spoken at many of America’s leading law schools, including Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Penn, and Stanford, and bar associations. He has been recognized with the Gay City News Impact Award (2019), as a Top Lawyer Under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association (2018), one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association (2016), a Public Interest Leader by the Boston Bar Association (2012), and with the Young Alumni Award by the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2016). He is regularly quoted by news outlets regarding the civil rights of LGBT people and their families, and has made numerous media appearances, including MSNBC

Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Gonzalez-Pagan worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Assistant Attorney General, a Special Assistant District Attorney, and an Associate General Counsel to the Massachusetts Inspector General.

Gonzalez-Pagan received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. He also possesses a Master’s in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Cornell University. Gonzalez-Pagan was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is fluent in Spanish.