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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!

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