Banner: About NCLR

The audacity to fight for justice. The perseverance to win.

We started as pioneers. And we still are.

In 1977, a brave and determined woman—fresh out of law school and eager to make a difference—decided to put her knowledge to good use. As a legal scholar, Donna Hitchens saw the courtroom as a way to change the world. As a lesbian, she had experienced frustrations and fears—both personal and professional—and didn’t want others to suffer the same. And as a future parent, she knew she would face even more challenges ahead.

On this foundation, the National Center for Lesbian Rights was born.

That was over three decades ago. Today, that pioneering spirit and unwavering commitment to advance the civil and human rights of LGBT people continues. Each year, through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education, NCLR helps more than 5,000 LGBT people and their families nationwide. And our precedent-setting case victories literally re-write the law, changing the legal landscape for all LGBT people and families across the nation. For three decades we’ve led historic cases, and today we are still trailblazing in pursuit of justice, fairness, and legal protections for all LGBT people.

Making change means changing everything.

From a humble yet tenacious initial focus on addressing the overlooked discrimination against lesbians, NCLR has grown to expand its life—and law—changing work in order to advance the legal landscape for every LGBT person. No stone will go unturned in pursuit of our goal of achieving full and equal access to civil and human rights for all. Our programs focusing on employment, immigration, youth, elder law, transgender law, sports, marriage, relationship protections, reproductive rights, and family law create safer homes, safer jobs, and a more just world.

Read NCLR's timeline.

our mission

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is 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.

Year Founded: 1977

What We Do: NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm which litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.

Who We Serve: More than 5,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families in all fifty states each year, including LGBT seniors, immigrants, athletes, and youth. And our impact litigation serves all LGBT people in the United States.

NCLR End Statements

our impact

NCLR's legal and policy victories set important legal precedents that improve the lives of all LGBT people. Our free legal assistance empowers individuals to assert their own legal rights. Our community and public education broadens public support for LGBT civil rights.

Projects and Legal Areas: Family (including marriage equality, parenting, and other relationship protections), Youth, Immigration, Elder, Transgender, Employment, and Sports Law.

our staff & board

Our dedicated staff of 27 works from our national office in San Francisco, and a regional office in Washington, D.C.

Board of Directors: Fifteen Bay Area-based women of diverse backgrounds and professional expertise, committed to advancing the direction and leadership of NCLR in the broader social justice and legal arenas.

National Advisory Board: Eight women in key cities throughout the U.S. bring a national perspective to NCLR’s leadership.

National Advisory Council: Twelve women in key cities throughout the United States extend NCLR’s network and represent NCLR in national conversations about LGBT legal and social justice issues.

our 2012 financial figures

Our 2012 budget was $5.8 million, 84% of which is spent directly on our legal programs and services. As for our revenue, 75% of our annual budget is raised from individual donors, with major gifts of $1,500 or more making up about 40% of our total income. Additional funding comes from foundations and corporations, along with pro-bono services contributed by co-counsel.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Dena Zaldua-Hilkene at


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National Headquarters
870 Market Street, Suite 370
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.392.6257  | Fax: 415.392.8442

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