Lambda Legal Defense Fund Timeline

  • The Start of Lambda Legal

    The Start of Lambda Legal
    Lambda Legal was founded on no particular date in 1973. The founder, Bill Thom (pictured), had already been advocating for LGBTQ+ rights before he founded the organization. However, the creation of Lambda Legal has helped immensely since it was conceived.
  • People v. West 12 Tenants Corp.

    People v. West 12 Tenants Corp.
    This was the nation's first HIV/AIDS discrimination case, where HIV doctor Joseph Sonnabend was kicked out of his NY office by the coop board. Sonnabend was among the only doctors willing to treat the illness that spread among gay men like the plague. Lambda Legal said that the coop board was violating the Civil Rights Law and a New York court banned the eviction. The coop board appealed, but the two sides compromised and Sonnabend continued treating HIV for many years.
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    In re Guardianship of Kowalski

    Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson were lesbian partners. In 1983, Sharon Kowalski got permanently mentally disabled in a car accident. Since Sharon and Karen weren't out, Karen and Donald (Sharon's dad) compromised to give Donald custody if Karen could have visiting hours at the hospital. After the permissions were given to him, Donald cut off Karen from Sharon. In 1988, Donald's health was failing and they appointed a new guardian, (not Karen). Then Lambda Legal helped, and Karen won.
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    Boy Scouts Ban

    In 1992, James Dale (born 1970) advocated against the Boy Scouts' tyranny. The BSA (Boy Scouts of America) had been excluding queer boys from becoming scout leaders. This case lasted such a long time because of the strong backing the BSA had. However, it was evidently useless in the end, and Lambda Legal and the LGBTQ+ community prevailed.
  • Colorado's "Constitutional" Amendment 2

    Colorado's "Constitutional" Amendment 2
    In 1996, Colorado tried to pass an anti-gay Constitutional Amendment that would prosecute queer people. With the help from a lawyer of Lambda Legal Defense Fund, the US Supreme Court cracked down on the amendment and refused to pass it. The image pictured is a march after the amendment was rejected.
  • Lambda Legal in Atlanta

    Lambda Legal in Atlanta
    In 1997, Lambda Legal opened its southern regional office in Atlanta, Georgia. They were actually one of the first LGBTQ+ support institutes established in the south. Pictured is the street where Lambda Legal's southern regional office is.
  • Lambda Legal v. State Sodomy Laws

    Lambda Legal v. State Sodomy Laws
    In 2003, Lambda Legal made America infinitely better for queer people such as me. The US Supreme Court, again with the help of Lambda Legal, abolished all of the remaining state sodomy laws in all of America.
  • Lambda Legal v. Medical Discrimination

    Lambda Legal v. Medical Discrimination
    In 2008, there was yet another win. California's Lambda Legal attorneys ensure that the California Supreme Court rules that doctors and medical professionals cannot refuse service to or discriminate against those in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • California's Equal Marriage

    California's Equal Marriage
    During the same year it was ruled that LGBTQ+ people could not be medically discriminated against, homosexual marriage was made legal in California.
  • Fair Hospital Visitation Rights

    Fair Hospital Visitation Rights
    In 2010, Obama and Lambda Legal made it so hospital visitation rights (usually reserved for heterosexually married families) would include gay married families.
  • Glenn v. Brumby

    Glenn v. Brumby
    Vandy Beth Glenn is a transgender woman who was fired from her job as a Legislative Editor after she came out to her coworkers and boss. When Lambda Legal intervened and advocated for her rights as a citizen of the USA not to be discriminated against, she regained her position. Pictured (far right) is Vandy Beth Glenn herself.
  • Lesbian Health Insurance

    Lesbian Health Insurance
    Karen Golinski obtained health insurance for herself and her wife legally married as lesbians. This was a big win for the lesbian community, especially because lesbians are often more discriminated against (due to being both women and already having sexism to deal with). Pictured are Karen Golinski (left) and her wife, Amy Cunninghis (right).