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ADL and the LGBT Community: A Commitment to Equal Rights

The Anti-Defamation League has a longstanding commitment to protecting civil rights, particularly those that affect the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. These include addressing discrimination, hate crimes and marriage equality. The following highlights ADL’s multifaceted work advocating for and educating about the LGBT community and the quest for equal rights.

ADL’s national commissioners have adopted several relevant national resolutions pledging a commitment to LGBT rights. In turn, the League has been a key partner in the fight to seek protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace and beyond.

Marriage Equality

Our advocacy reaches from federal and state courthouses to Congress and statehouses around the country. For nearly twenty years, ADL has ardently advocated in the courts on behalf of LGBT rights. ADL has filed amicus briefs and joined coalition briefs on issues that directly affect the LGBT community. This has included filings on the appellate levels in both state and federal courts.

In November 2001, ADL's National Commission adopted a resolution supporting the equal provision of benefits for same-sex couples in domestic partnerships. In 2005, ADL’s National Commission carried the principle of equality one step further, recognizing that all people should have access to civil marriage.

ADL has filed amicus briefs in a number of cases urging courts to hold a ban on marriage equality unconstitutional, and has been a strong voice advocating against measures to deny that fundamental right. Our amicus work on marriage equality includes:

Discrimination

For more than 25 years, ADL has supported anti-discrimination laws that explicitly protect LGBT people. In 1986, ADL adopted policy supporting legislation barring discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Through our amicus work, ADL has encouraged courts to eliminate discriminatory barriers to LGBT people’s full inclusion in society, including amicus briefs in:

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

ADL supports efforts to achieve the full inclusion of all individuals who are willing and able to serve their country, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. ADL welcomed the decision to halt military’s “Don’t Ask” policy and opposes efforts to roll back full inclusion. Most recently, in our 2012 statement of policy priorities on a range of international and domestic issues submitted to both the Democrat and Republican platform committees, ADL urged the elimination of barriers (PDF) preventing transgender people from serving their country.

Leading the Efforts to Enact Inclusive Hate Crime Laws

ADL has emerged as the nation’s leader in crafting and advocating for inclusive state and federal hate crime laws, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. ADL pioneered the hate crime law under which many anti-LGBT crimes are punished, and led the decade-long effort to ensure that sexual orientation was added to the protected categories in the federal hate crime law with the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in October 2009. ADL’s website features an interactive database on State Hate Crimes Statutory Provisions, which detail which states’ hate crimes laws include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.

ADL continues to alert communities to, and condemn, individual hate crimes when they occur in communities nationwide. ADL has also filed amicus briefs and joined coalition briefs in several relevant cases. Our amicus work in this area includes:

  • Estate of Teena Brandon v. The County of Richardson, Nebraska (Nebraska Supreme Court,  2001);
  • In re M.S. (California Court of Appeals, 1994);
  • California v. Joshua H. (California Court of Appeals, 1993);
  • Ladue v. Vermont (Vermont Supreme Court, 1993); and
  • California v. Mearra (California Court of Appeals, 1993).

LGBT Issues Internationally

ADL's commitment to and advocacy on behalf of LGBT people does not stop at the United State's borders. ADL has spoken out on LGBT issues around the globe, including:

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