AFJ Member Spotlight is a series where we highlight the great advocacy work of Alliance for Justice member organizations. AFJ is an alliance of 130 national, regional, and local organizations working for a wide range of progressive causes, united in our commitment to advancing justice and democracy. Click here for more information on becoming an AFJ member organization.
What is Lambda Legal’s issue focus?
Lambda Legal, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work
What is something Lambda Legal is currently prioritizing?
We drafted a year-end report in December 2017 and 2018 that analyzed the biases of the nominees that have been nominated by this Administration. We found a demonstrated anti-LGBT bias in 1 in 3 circuit court nominees. One third of the judges nominated by this administration have proven to our community that they disrespect our existence, bodies, and families.
We are currently working on a mid-year update to this report. We believe that the raw data speaks for itself, and our goal is to raise awareness about the kinds of people being handed lifetime appointments by this Administration and this Congress.
Do you have any general words of wisdom that you’d like to share with other staff engaged in advocacy?
Be a team player. All of us are working towards the same goal of protecting the judiciary and everyone brings unique gifts and perspectives to the table. We’re stronger together, and when we work together towards a common goal and respect each other’s contributions, we can make change happen.
Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy initiative on c3/c4 advocacy rules and guidance, and our Justice programs on the importance of the courts and judicial nominations. How has either or both most helped you?
The courts should be a place where all people feel safe, and where they will receive equal justice under the law, regardless of who they are, who they love, or what their family looks like.
Lambda Legal has long worked to defend a fair judiciary, but our work has taken on a new vigor in response to the Trump Administration’s attempts to undermine our judiciary system. We are deeply troubled by the non-stop removal of the procedural guardrails that have long been in place to ensure that Senators are fulfilling their constitutional duty to provide meaningful advice and consent regarding judicial nominees.
But most disturbing are the high numbers of ultra-conservative ideologues that have been nominated under this administration that are hostile to LGBTQ rights and civil rights more generally. From Jeff Mateer, who asserted that transgender children were a part of “Satan’s plan” to Matthew Kacsmaryk, who has defended bakers who refuse to bake cakes for a same-sex couple’s wedding and who believes that transgender people are “delusional,” these nominees give no member of our community any faith that they will receive equal justice under the law in their court room.
Working with amazing partners like Alliance for Justice have helped us to ensure that the records of these dangerous nominees are well-known to the Senators before they vote on them. Every vote on every nominee matters, and we want our Senators to know that these votes are personal for us and for our community. Our courts matter, and they are worth fighting for.
Who inspires you?
The Civil Rights movement is filled with queer trailblazers. Every day, our community is standing on the shoulders of Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Rivera and the millions of LGBTQ people who chose to live authentically who have helped pave the way for us. These trailblazers rose up, and fought for the rights that we have today. Pride began as a protest, and while we have a lot to be proud of, we still have a lot to fight for. We are inspired every day by the warriors from our community who stand out and proud even when it means hate and violence. We are inspired by the legacies of those that paved the way for us, and by those who continue to stand up for our rights.
Learn more about Lambda Legal here.