Peter Renn

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Peter Renn is Counsel in the Western 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 everyone living with HIV.

Renn handles impact and test case litigation that spans the needs of the LGBT community.  Most recently, he is counsel in Karnoski v. Trump, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender people, which resulted in a preliminary injunction against the ban’s enforcement.

Renn has been on the front lines of constitutional litigation involving the rights of same-sex couples, both before and after the achievement of nationwide marriage equality.  He was part of the legal team in Sevcik v. Sandoval that won the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Nevada and established the legal precedent enabling other same-sex couples to marry throughout the western United States.  He also represented the same-sex partner of a shooting victim in Harris v. Millennium Hotel, in which the Alaska Supreme Court struck down the exclusion of same-sex couples from survivor benefits as unconstitutional.  Most recently, he successfully defended the equal rights and responsibilities of married same-sex couples in becoming parents in L.C. v. M.G. before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.  He also represents the surviving members of same-sex couples who are denied social security survivor benefits as a result of unconstitutional marriage laws in Ely v. Berryhill, Thornton v. Berryhill, Gonzales v. Berryhill, and Colosimo v. Berryhill.

Renn has worked to achieve recognition of the civil rights of transgender people across an array of contexts.  He is counsel in Carcaño v. Cooper challenging North Carolina’s discriminatory laws denying transgender people equal access to public facilities.  He also helped to secure a victory for a transgender police officer in Nevada barred from using his workplace restroom in Roberts v. Clark County School District.  With respect to health care access, Renn successfully argued a Ninth Circuit appeal on behalf of a transgender prisoner in California seeking access to medically necessary care in Rosati v. Igbinoso.  Most recently, he represents a transgender librarian who was denied coverage for medically necessary care in Fletcher v. State of Alaska.  Renn has also worked to secure government recognition of the gender identity of transgender people through identity documents.  He obtained a ruling that Idaho’s refusal to provide transgender people with birth certificates matching their gender identity was unconstitutional in F.V. v. Barron.  He is similarly challenging Ohio’s birth certificate policy as unconstitutional in Ray v. Himes.

Renn has fought to defend nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT people against constitutional attack, including on religious grounds.  He represents a lesbian couple who were turned away from a business establishment in Hawai‘i because of the business owner’s religious beliefs in Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast, which resulted in court rulings upholding the enforcement of nondiscrimination laws.  He also represented a transgender customer who was turned away by a California barbershop in Oliver v. The Barbershop because of the business owner’s religious beliefs relating to gender expression.

Renn has also advocated on behalf of LGBT youth facing discrimination, harassment, and restrictions on their speech and activities at school.  He challenged the constitutionality of a discriminatory curriculum law in Arizona that restricted the positive portrayal of LGBT people in Equality Arizona v. Hoffman, which led to the law’s repeal.

Renn graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.  Following law school, Renn clerked for the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.  He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in psychology and Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin.  Before joining Lambda Legal, Renn was a litigation associate at the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles.  He is a recipient of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 Award.  Renn is a member of the California bar.