NonprofitHi, I’m Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest legal organization fighting for the civil rights of LGBTQ and HIV+ people in the U.S. Ask Me Anything!
Apr 27th 2017 by lambdalegal • 11 Questions • 69 Points
Bio: We are the lawyers behind many of the pivotal cases in the struggle towards full equality. We kicked off the marriage movement in Hawaii in 1993, helped win nationwide marriage equality in 2015, and today we are defending marriage in states where it is under attack.
Long before marriage, our cases built the foundation for many of the advances we’ve made for the LGBTQ+ communities. The 1996 breakthrough Romer case was the first time the Supreme Court said that gays and lesbians have the same right to seek government protection against discrimination as any other group of people. In 2003, we ended the criminalization of LGBT lives by overturning state sodomy laws in Lawrence.
Earlier this month we won a pivotal employment discrimination case on behalf of a lesbian who lost her job after someone saw her kissing her girlfriend goodbye in the parking lot. In that case, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that discriminating against someone because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual is a form of sex discrimination, and it is against the law. (Four circuits have already held that discriminating against transgender people is sex discrimination.)
And we are most certainly not going back! Right now, we’re busy fighting against a hostile Trump Administration, fighting the so-called “bathroom bills” mushrooming all over the country; defending the Affordable Care Act, which is the most successful AIDS-fighting program in American history; fighting employment discrimination; and challenging fringe religious groups that want carve-outs to laws that protect everyone.
Wherever LGBTQ rights are at stake, we’re on the case… so ask me anything!
EDIT: We're all done! Thank you so much for your thoughtful questions and support. We appreciate you all! If you are seeking assistance with a legal matter involving sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV, please call the Lambda Legal office in your region and ask for the Legal Help Desk.
Do you see any utility in groups such as Pink Pistols that argue for ancillary constitutional rights (in this case, the Second Amendment) to the fight for LGBTQ rights?
Lambda has written about gun violence, especially after the murders at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando: http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20160614_gun-violence-is-an-lgbt-issue
I think everyone should be out of the closet, so organizing on any issue in an LGBT framework is important to queer visibility. Pink Pistols takes one position, Gays Against Guns takes another.
With Obergefell v Hodges failing to define a level of constitutional scrutiny for orientation based discrimination, do you see the Roberts court giving it intermediate scrutiny in future legislation, or is there a case for strict scrutiny?
Two really interesting trends are relevant here: strict or intermediate scrutiny for discrimination against trans people, like in the preliminary injunction we recently won for Pittsburgh high school students, and the courts' acknowledgment – like in Hively – that it is hard to tell the difference between a gender identity claim and a sexual orientation claim. So I expect that the trend toward strict or intermediate scrutiny for both sexual orientation and gender identity will continue.