Even with great strides toward LGBT equality, there’s still a long way to go. Thankfully, you’ve got Lambda Legal.
By Dustin Shrader
When history marks the path of gay rights, Lambda Legal will have laid many of the mile markers. It’s an ongoing responsibility that the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization tackles every day, including right here in Atlanta at the hardworking Southern Regional Office.
Fighting for full equality in the realms of litigation, education and public policy, Lambda makes far-reaching accomplishments in ways as high-profile as the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision last year, to myriad smaller cases advocating for the LGBT freedoms and protections of people across the country and here at home.
They do it with the grassroots support and fundraisers like Atlanta’s fun and informative Southern Love Affair event on January 30. The gathering features Lambda’s executive director Kevin Cathcart welcoming fiercely devoted LGBT advocate Simone Bell as the new Southern Regional Director.
“While it’s true that the LGBT community has made advances in gaining rights, there is still so much work to be done,” Bell says.
A former member of the Georgia House, she returns to the Lambda Legal fold after three successful terms as the first out lesbian African American in any state legislature. We had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with the organization while she gets settled into her new role.
“Our work is vital, and our strategy works: We make the case for equality in the nation’s courts and in the court of public opinion,” Bell asserts. “Until we achieve full equality under the law in every state in this country, we will keep fighting and moving history forward. We are committed to the work.”
Never one to back down from a fight in the legislature, Bell made a name for herself at the statehouse. She returns to Lambda Legal reinvigorated and motivated.
“I’ve been out since I was 13 years old,” she says. “I’m an issues person by nature and have always seen it as my responsibility to stand up for what’s righteous. … I stay committed to the work because it’s long-term work. No single established right is going to bring about full equality for our entire community, so we have to keep fighting if we want to win.”
But 2016 isn’t all work and no play for Lambda Legal. Take the January 30 event for example, Bell says.
“A Southern Love Affair is a reception for our Liberty Circle Members, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the work of our Atlanta team,” she notes. “The Atlanta Leadership Committee and local National Board Members are energized and committed to making sure we highlight Lambda Legal’s work and wins across the South.”
All in all, Lambda Legal is a beacon of hope ready to armor up and soldier on in the fight for justice, something Bell says the community needs to know.
“We often have to do our cases in silence in the South because of culture and lack of protections, but we’re not deterred,” she says. “We fight and we win.”
Want to go?
What: A Southern Love Affair
When: January 30, 6 p.m.
Where: National Center for Civil & Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd.