Lambda Staff Attorney Cited for Advancing Rights of People with HIV/AIDS

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Howard Brown Health Center honors Heather C. Sawyer on Saturday, October 21
October 16, 2000

(CHICAGO, October 16, 2000) — For tireless advocacy on behalf of people affected by HIV and AIDS, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund attorney Heather C. Sawyer will receive a Friend for Life Award from one of the nation’s leading health centers for the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community.

On Saturday, October 21, the Howard Brown Health Center presents its Friend for Life award to honor Sawyer, a staff attorney in Lambda’s Midwest Regional Office, as one of Chicago’s top civil rights lawyers.

Sawyer said, “This award recognizes the enduring urgency of the fight for equal treatment and opportunities for those affected by HIV and AIDS. I am truly honored to receive it and to have the privilege of fighting alongside other community organizations while pursuing Lambda’s longstanding goal of full civil equality.”

Sawyer recently led Lambda’s and the AIDS Legal Council’s federal lawsuit against Mutual of Omaha insurance company. In Doe and Smith v. Mutual of Omaha, Lambda and ALCC represented two policyholders with HIV in challenging the insurance giant’s alarmingly low limits on its HIV/AIDS coverage. Mutual of Omaha lifted the caps in May.

In another discrimination case, Doe v. Chicago Board of Education, Sawyer represented an applicant for a teaching position in the Chicago public school system who was forced to reveal extensive, highly personal medical information and was not interviewed for a position after being forced to disclose his infection with HIV. In settling Lambda’s lawsuit challenging this practice under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Board of Education, which governs the country’s third largest school district, agreed to stop screening applicants for HIV and other medical conditions.

In a recent case on behalf of Howard Brown Health Center , Sawyer helped win a settlement for the Center after it was thwarted repeatedly by anti-gay and anti-HIV bias in attempts to lease space for its services on Chicago’s South Side. The 1999 settlement enhanced the health center’s ability to provide vital medical services to lesbians, gay men, people with HIV/AIDS, and other under-served communities.

Sawyer currently is working to help two gay teachers who were forced to take down gay and lesbian history month displays at their schools in Michigan despite the fact that a non-gay teacher created similar displays in past years.

The Howard Brown Health Center is the Midwest’s largest lesbian, gay and bisexual health care center, providing primary medical care and HIV services to more than 5,000 people annually. Lambda is the oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS.

WHAT: Howard Brown Health Center annual awards dinner

WHO: Lambda Staff Attorney Heather C. Sawyer receives Friend for Life award for her work on behalf of those with HIV/AIDS

WHERE: Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 South Michigan Avenue

WHEN: Saturday, October 21, 7:00 p.m.


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CONTACT: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 or 888-987-1984 (pager), or Heather C. Sawyer 312-663-4413 x 22



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