On March 15, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) announced that after more than 22 years, Kate Kendell will be stepping down from her role as executive director at the end of this year. NCLR was the first lesbian-led national legal organization and has been fighting for equality for the full LGBTQ community for more than 40 years. Under Kendell’s leadership, NCLR has been central to the fight for LGBTQ equality, including marriage equality, protections for LGBTQ families and youth, and the ongoing fight to stop Trump’s transgender military ban.
In 2008, NCLR won the California marriage equality case and was later part of the team of attorneys to secure national marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. NCLR’s 2017 U.S. Supreme Court victory in Pavan v. Smith will ensure states cannot chip away at marriage equality protections for married same-sex parents. And together with GLAD, last year NCLR was first to file a federal lawsuit challenging Trump’s transgender military ban in August 2017 and secure a nationwide preliminary injunction stopping the ban from moving forward while the case is heard in court.
During Kendell’s tenure, NCLR’s budget has grown from $500,000 to more than $5 million, the number of staff members has increased by 5x, and NCLR now has both West Coast and East Coast offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
“My time at NCLR has widened my vistas and laid open my heart. I am honored to have held this position and privileged to have experienced the countless moments of joy and awe that have forever changed our lives as LGBTQ individuals. I’ve been at the center of enormous NCLR victories, four at the U.S. Supreme Court, including the freedom to marry, a fight that seemed impossible to many when I became executive director 22 years ago,” Kendell says. “I feel enormous gratitude to have been a part of the NCLR legacy and part of the history of the fight—still on-going—for justice for all LGBTQ people.”