Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

aka Lambda Legal

New York, NY


Lambda Legal is a national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people (LGBT) and all people living with HIV through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.

Ruling Year


Interim CEO

Mr. Richard Burns

Main Address

120 Wall St 19th floor

New York, NY 10005 USA


LGBT, GLBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, HIV, AIDS, civil rights, social justice, discrimination, employment law, family law, judicial independence, constitutional law, immigration law, marriage rights, marriage equality, marital status discrimination, domestic partner benefits, relationship recognition, reproductive rights, youth, foster care, child welfare, privacy rights, judicial independence, child custody, HIV prevention, HIV discrimination, health care fairness, life planning, impact litigation, public education, advocacy





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Lesbian/Gay Rights (R26)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

Public Interest Law/Litigation (I83)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

We are committed to achieving the full recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV. We achieve this through impact litigation, education and public policy work

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Protecting Families & Defending the Freedom to Marry

Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project

HIV Project

Health Care Fairness

Workplace Fairness

Transgender Rights

Fair Courts


Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

We fight to achieve full equality for LGBT people and everyone living with HIV in the United States. we do not charge our clients for legal representation or advocacy, and we receive no government funding. We depend on contributions from supporters around the country. Impact Litigation - We select cases that will have the greatest impact to protect and advance the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV. Education - We lead high-impact public education campaigns to help people exercise the rights they have and to build public support for equality. Public Policy - We advocate for public policy at the local, state and federal levels to improve the lives of LGBT people, everyone affected by HIV, their families, and allies.


Lambda Legal will build on the body of law we have already helped develop, and will continue to bring cases that expand the understanding of civil rights for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV. This is how we won marriage equality—by establishing an understanding that the Constitution’s promises require this fundamental right be honored and protected. The groundwork for the landmark Windsor and Obergefell cases at the Supreme Court, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and made marriage equality the law of the land, respectively, was laid by dozens of state and federal cases that Lambda Legal and our partners brought (like Varnum v. Brien and Goodridge v. Massachusetts, for example). Similarly, we have been working for over a decade to clarify the federal Civil Rights Act’s coverage, making the case that protections against sex discrimination encompass the discrimination people face as a result of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. This understanding is increasingly gaining hold—including from Republican-appointed judges and fairly conservative courts. No major victory in our movement happened overnight. And so, just as we’ve always done, we will keep creating the building blocks that will pave the road toward full formal and lived equality.

Legal protections are won or lost not only in state and federal courts, but also in the court of public opinion. When our opponents claim that we are seeking “special rights,” it is important to remind people that all we have ever sought is equal rights. When well-funded anti- LGBT forces try to gut anti-discrimination laws by using the language of “religious freedom” to paint themselves as the victims of our equality, we expose their real agenda. Their goal has nothing to do with preserving religious pluralism, but instead seeks to privilege their own religious orthodoxy and, in so doing, push LGBTQ people back into the closet by undermining our civil rights. Lambda Legal has robust digital and media teams, and we work both publicly and behind the scenes to engage media and opinion elites to frame the issues in ways that center the lived experiences of LGBTQ people. We are working hard to make homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, queerphobia, and HIV stigma socially unacceptable, so that even when we suffer legal setbacks, the pressure of public opinion can help counteract the harm that results.

Yes, we sue... but we also work with partners all over the country at the federal, state and local levels to challenge and influence lawmakers not only when they are crafting new laws but also when they are developing rules and policies that affect how laws are implemented or enforced. Since day one, the Trump administration has been aggressively rescinding or undermining protections (like the Obama administration’s federal guidance protecting transgender students), while writing new regulations that invite discrimination against our community (such as the proposed “Conscious and Religious Freedom” rule at the Department of Health and Human Services). We continuously monitor all of this mischief and respond to it through formal channels like providing comment and public record requests while also helping mobilize critical political pressure. And at the state and local levels, there are opportunities to play both defense and offense, like our success in beating back dangerous child welfare bills in Georgia which would have jeopardized the safety of LGBTQ kids, and our leadership within the successful California effort to decriminalize the lives of people living with HIV.

External Reviews


Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?