Based in Lambda Legal’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, Pizer long has been a leading voice for ending marriage discrimination against lesbian and gay couples. She served as co-counsel in the intensive marriage equality litigation in both Washington State and California, which led to the historic In re Marriage Cases victory in May 2008, and now is co-counsel in Strauss v. Horton, the LGBT community’s challenge to Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot measure that purported to change California’s Constitution to eliminate gay and lesbian couples’ fundamental right to marry.
Pizer often advises policymakers on protecting same-sex couples and their families. She co-drafted AB 205, California’s broad “Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003,” as well as later bills to clarify and expand the rights of registered domestic partners in California, and has assisted lawmakers in Oregon and Washington State with similar issues. She also consults with government officials on ways to ensure that public employers and contractors offer equal benefits to all workers with families, irrespective of marital status and sexual orientation. In addition, Pizer helps local governments defend their domestic partner programs against attacks by religious conservative groups, and was co-counsel in the successful defense of AB 205 against two such lawsuits.
Pizer also handles cases to advance domestic partner protections and the rights of lesbian and gay parents, and to end sexual orientation discrimination in employment, education, health care and housing. She represents Guadalupe Benitez in litigation against her former physicians for withholding medical treatment based on their religious objection to treating lesbian patients the way they treat other patients, resulting in the California Supreme Court’s August 2008 decision that constitutional protections for religious liberty do not authorize health professionals to violate the state’s civil rights law.
Pizer represented Lydia Ramos in her successful court fight to retrieve her daughter after homophobic relatives took the child following the sudden death of Lydia’s life partner, and Keith Bradkowski, a gay man whose partner was killed on September 11th, in his struggle for fair treatment from assistance programs. She also has been involved in multiple cases before the California Supreme Court that successfully affirmed the legal ties between lesbian and gay parents and their dependent children.
Outside California, Pizer has helped secure victories that have advanced LGBT civil rights in Washington, Oregon, Montana and Alaska. She is a frequent advocate for LGBT family equality in academic and public settings and to the media. She repeatedly has been named one of the top women litigators in California by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal, and has received numerous professional achievement and community service awards.
Pizer has served as an adjunct professor at USC Law School, Loyola Law School and Whittier Law School. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, she was associated with Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP in San Francisco for five years. Before entering private practice, Pizer was legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League and served as a judicial clerk to the Hon. Ann Aldrich of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She is a 1987 graduate of New York University School of Law and a 1982 honors graduate of Harvard College.
More information is available about Jennifer on the Lambda Legal website.