CEO's Note

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.
Rachel B. Tiven

Serving Our Country

The draft ended in 1973. Since then, every person who has served in the U.S. military has volunteered.

Lambda Legal was founded that same year, and since our earliest days we have fought for the right to serve openly.

We took on our first military expulsion case in 1975, for Ensign Vernon “Copy” Berg III. Berg, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, had been anonymously outed and discharged. Lambda Legal’s first (and for a long time, only!) attorney, E. Carrington “Cary” Boggan, couldn’t get Berg reinstated, but he persuaded a federal appeals court that the Navy’s rules on homosexuality were too vague.

At the same time, Leonard Matlovich was fighting his discharge from the Army, and we took on his case. Lambda Legal took over Matlovich’s case after the ACLU dropped it when they became sure he would lose. Together, the cases helped force the Pentagon to at least issue honorable discharges to those ejected for homosexuality.

In 1987, a midshipman named Joseph Steffan was expelled from the Naval Academy. He contacted Berg, who referred him to Lambda Legal. With the pro bono help of Wachtell, Lipton, we spent years fighting for his reinstatement.

In the 1990s we represented Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, chief nurse of the Washington State National Guard and the highestranking officer ever to be expelled for homosexuality.

Today, we are proud to represent Katie Schmid, Ryan Karnoski, Drew Layne and other transgender people in their fight to join and serve openly in the armed forces, the nation’s largest employer.

Our fight for equality at work continues. We were disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear our case for Jameka Evans, who graced the cover of our last issue. We’ll keep fighting for Jameka and everyone who is fired or denied a job because they are LGBT or live with HIV. Read about Liam Pierce, who is suing the sheriff’s department of New Iberia, Louisiana, for withdrawing a job offer after they learned he has HIV. When talented people lose jobs because of prejudice, everyone suffers.