Headquartered in San Francisco and Washington, DC, NCLR has been using their brains to fight for LGBT rights for over three decades now. They are the only LBGT organization to work with both litigation and public policy on the state and federal level. As a public interest law firm, they have been focused primarily on legal and policy battles, and NCLR has successfully defended the rights of thousands of couples and individuals who have been subject to policy discrimination. Recently they have expanded their efforts into the realms of employment, marriage laws, reproductive rights, and defending LGBT immigrants. In these efforts, NCLR has been a part of many landmark cases at both the trial and appellate levels.
More than just dealing with high impact litigation, NCLR also offers a helpline resource and free legal advice to their LBGT clients and advocates, as well as providing community education services about LGBT issues. The primary source of these services is from NCLR’s dedicated network of attorneys across the country. These attorneys often work completely free and on their own time to provide legal services for these underrepresented individuals. NCLR’s network also gives legal advice to other social justice and LGBT organizations, including reviewing proposed state and federal legislation. Recently NCLR has been working more on its education projects, informing families about their rights and how attorneys can help with many social justice issues. They are also working on educating public institutions such as hospitals and detention facilities on LGBT issues, specifically transgender issues, because these groups tend to be the least represented in these institutions, usually due to a lack of family support. NCLR also produces numerous educational publications, often directed at informing low-income and disadvantaged families with LGBT issues as part of their Family Protection Project.
In Washington, NCLR has been the main partner with the current administration on many significant LGBT victories, including securing hospital visitation rights through the Department of Health and Human Services and instating protections against housing discrimination through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are also committed to the compliance of the policies they help to pass, often sending representatives to federal institutions to train and educate staff on new policies. NCLR does not only handle specifically LGBT policy issues. Recently they have teamed up with other advocacy organizations to protect the Violence Against Women Act. They have also partnered with social justice organizations to help underserved kids in the juvenile system.
As an organization, they operate across all 50 states (though they are still looking for attorneys in some areas) with 85% of their entire budget going directly to the legal services they provide. The majority of their funds come straight from individuals and so they are always looking for more donors to keep on providing legal assistance and policy advocacy for LGBT rights. NerdWallet recently put out financial services and planning tools for LGBT couples for pride month, and is proud to support NCLR and their work.