2015 DOJ Pride Award winners


DOJ Pride is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 DOJ Pride Awards:

The Gerald B. Roemer Community Service Award

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General of the United States, and Stuart F. Delery, Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States

The James R. Douglass Award

Sharon M. McGowan, Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Appellate Section

Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery:  for leading the federal government’s efforts in the DOMA (Windsor) and marriage equality (Obergefell) litigations to achieve equal status for LGBT individuals and their relationships.  Under their leadership, the Department reversed decades of government-led and government-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT individuals and argued that sexual orientation classifications should be subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.  In Windsor, the Department urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  In Obergefell, the Department urged the Court to strike down state bans on marriage equality.  SG Verrilli argued both cases before the Court and closed his Obergefell argument by forcefully and passionately stating:  “Gay and lesbian people are equal.  They deserve equal protection of the laws, and they deserve it now.”  AAG Delery took a central role in briefing both cases before the Court and led the government-wide effort to implement the Court’s Windsor decision by coordinating across agencies to treat married same-sex couples the same as married opposite-sex couples to the greatest extent possible under existing law.

Sharon McGowan:  for leadership on Windsor implementation and Title VII transgender inclusion.  As Deputy General Counsel for Policy and Acting General Counsel of the Office of Personnel Management, Sharon played a key role in the speedy implementation of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision with respect to the health insurance, life insurance, dental and vision insurance, long-term care insurance, and flexible spending accounts of LGBT employees across the federal government, including the Department.  OPM issued its first Windsor guidance about extending benefits to the families of LGBT employees a mere two days after the Court’s decision.  Now, as Deputy Chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Appellate Section, Sharon ensures that the Division effectively fulfills its mandate of protecting civil rights.  She has been active in the Department’s efforts to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender individuals in all areas of life, including employment and education.  Sharon also serves as a key member of the Civil Rights Division’s LGBTI Working Group, which coordinates the Division’s LGBT work.

Thank you to all who voted.  The winners will be recognized at the Department’s Pride Celebration on Wednesday, June 3, from 11am to 12pm in the Great Hall.

Congratulations again to all of the nominees.  We recognize and thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of LGBT inclusion and equality!

DOJ Pride Celebration details for 6/3/2015


DOJ Pride is thrilled to announce the details of the Department’s LGBT Pride Month Observance Program  in June:

Bending Toward Justice:  Continuing the March Toward LGBT Equality
Wednesday, June 3, 11am-12pm
The Great Hall, RFK Main Justice

We will have the honor of hosting the Department’s own Solicitor General, Don Verrilli, on the eve of the Supreme Court’s marriage decision.  Just last month, speaking on behalf of the United States, Solicitor Verrilli advocated forcefully and effectively for equal treatment of LGBT individuals, telling the Court:  “Gay and lesbian people are equal.  They deserve equal protection of the laws, and they deserve it now.”  We are also delighted to host Sheila Alexander-Reid, Director of the DC Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.  Ms. Alexander-Reid is veteran community activist and recently served as a Vice President of the Washington Blade.  In addition, we will recognize the winners of this year’s DOJ Pride Awards, the voting for which closes at noon tomorrow, May 14.

DOJ Pride will then host a Pride happy hour later that evening:

DOJ Pride Happy Hour
Wednesday, June 3, 6-8pm
Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U Street NW (one block from the green/yellow U Street metro stop)

DOJ Pride Brownbag 5/7/15: Mattachine Society of DC

DOJ Pride brown bag, Mattachine Society of DC
Thursday, May 7, 12-1:30pm
RFK 1101, Main Justice’s Andretta Room

Meet the President of the Mattachine Society of D.C., Charles Frances, and the organization’s pro bono counsel, Paul Thompson, Lisa Linsky and Mary Hallerman of McDermott Will and Emery for an engaging and informative discussion concerning the “archive activism” of the Mattachine Society of DC.

The Mattachine Society’s mission is to uncover the often deleted histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their treatment by federal and state governments for over 65 years.  The original Mattachine Society of DC was founded by gay civil rights pioneer, Dr. Frank Kameny in 1961.

The Mattachine Society of D.C. is a non-profit, non-partisan research and educational society that conducts original archival research at The National Archives, U.S. Presidential Libraries, the FOIA Library of the FBI, the Stonewall National Museum and Archives and other private and public repositories across the country.

The May 7 program will focus on some of the documents uncovered by the Mattachine Society of D.C. and the McDermott team, and include a discussion of what the media has referred to as, the “Animus Amicus” brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by McDermott on behalf of the Mattachine Society of D.C. in connection with the upcoming marriage cases.

The program presenters will discuss J.Edgar Hoover’s Sex Deviate Program from the 1950s, its impact on LGBT Americans in federal employment, and the trickle-down effect on the states from the federal government’s anti-LGBT policies and practices dating back to the 1940s, all of which laid the groundwork for the state marriage bans now at issue before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We will have a Q&A session to provide the audience an opportunity to discuss this important work and its significance to the broader LGBT community.

DOJ Pride Brownbag 1/15/15: Dylan Orr

DOJ Pride Brownbag with Dylan Orr
Thursday, January 15, 12pm-1pm
Andretta Room, RFK Main Justice Room 1101

The DOJ Pride and the Antitrust Division Diversity Committee are pleased to present a brownbag lunch with Dylan Orr, Chief of Staff to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor.  Dylan was the first openly transgender appointee in the executive branch when he was appointed in 2009.  Dylan has received numerous awards for his work advancing transgender equality, including the 2013 Julie Johnson Founder’s Award by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the 2013 Community Advocate Award by the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Smith College and his Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law.  Dial-in information is available by request.

AG Holder Directs Department to Include Gender Identity Under Sex Discrimination Employment Claims

Attorney General Holder Directs Department to Include Gender Identity Under Sex Discrimination Employment Claims

New Memo Applies to All DOJ Components and U.S. Attorneys

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status.  Attorney General Holder informed all Department of Justice component heads and United States Attorneys in a memo that the department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination, reversing a previous Department of Justice position.  Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment of an individual “because of such individual’s…sex,” among other protected characteristics.

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants.  And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

The Attorney General’s memo is designed to foster consistent treatment of claimants throughout the government and reduce confusion.  In addition to applying to the department’s civil obligations in defending federal interests, this memo clarifies the Civil Rights Division’s ability to file Title VII claims against state and local public employers on behalf of transgender individuals.  The Department of Justice does not have authority to file suit against private employers.



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