Kate Kendell leads the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Through direct litigation and advocacy, NCLR works to change discriminatory laws and to create new laws and policies benefiting the LGBT community.
Growing up Mormon in Utah, Kate learned about the complexities of religion and politics from an early age. After receiving her J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law in 1988 and a few years practicing corporate law, she pursued her real love-civil rights advocacy-and became the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. There she directly litigated many high-profile cases focusing on all aspects of civil liberties, including reproductive rights, prisoners' rights, free speech, the rights of LGBT people, and the intersection of church and state. In 1994 she joined NCLR as legal director, and was named executive director two years later.
Under her leadership, NCLR's programs, budget, and impact have grown exponentially, and the issues facing the LGBT community-from homophobia in sports to immigration policy-have taken center stage in our nation's discussion of civil rights and justice. Kate is a nationally recognized spokesperson for LGBT rights and has an active voice in major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, NPR, CNN, and many others. Despite the national success of NCLR under her tenure, her most rewarding responsibilities still include fostering alliances on the community and organizational levels, and advocating from a grass-roots perspective on issues concerning social justice.
Kate lives in San Francisco with her spouse and their children.
Out for Justice: Emerging Challenges at the LGBT Tipping Point
As our attention is hyper focused on the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the impending June ruling, it is clear that LGBT civil rights are taking center stage on the national level. While battles in the courtroom shape the future for LGBT people across the nation, the work is far from over once the rulings are handed down. Whether we are engaging members of the campus community or the general public, as LGBT advocates we find ourselves at the tipping point on several pressing issues including immigration reform, healthcare access, employment, parenting rights, and marriage equality. On the one side we're confronting inequality and discrimination in its many forms, and on the other, there is a growing awareness that we can't move forward doing things the same way expecting the same results.
How do we prioritize our commitments to education and social justice? What are the diverse alliances that are needed across our institutions and communities to foster dialogue and change? Highlighting the initiatives of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, this keynote is a call to action. We must forge new paths to meet the current challenges at the LGBT tipping point in order to create safer homes, safer jobs, safer campuses, and a more just world.
Partnering Organization: National Center for Lesbian Rights