Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders records
Scope and Contents
Material on GLAD’s founding and history are found in the collection, as is material related to the administration of the organization. The Board of Directors and Executive Director files include committee reports, a complete set of meeting minutes and packets, correspondence, and topical files providing a rich overview of GLAD’s activities. Financial records consist of auditor, public charity, and general budget reports, which provide information about GLAD’s financial status and growth over the years. Legal files consist of reports and litigation and amicus files, documenting only a few of the cases in which GLAD was involved. The Public Affairs files provide substantive information which can be used to reconstruct GLAD’s history and more generally the history of the legal status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and people with HIV in the United States. Of particular note are GLAD’s publications and the news clippings they maintained. The Education files include documentation on GLAD’s educational and outreach missions, including its Lawyer Referral Service, InfoLine (a phone based guidance and referral service), forums, and presentations. The Development files document fundraising. In addition to the records generated by GLAD, the collection includes a substantial number of newsletters, flyers, and brochures (Non-GLAD Publications) of various local and national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations (usually only a few items per organization). While not comprehensive, the non-GLAD publications provide a glimpse of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activist milieu primarily from the 1980s and 1990s.
Conditions Governing Access
All materials designated as "work-product" in the Legal Department addition are restricted until January 1, 2043.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
509.17 Linear Feet (1318 containers)
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
Best known for its litigation of the Massachusetts case Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, which established for the first time the right of same-sex couples to marry, GLAD was one of the first legal organizations in the United States dedicated solely to defending the rights of gay men and lesbians. Originally established to fight attacks and discrimination against the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, GLAD has, over time, expanded its mission to include transgender people and people with HIV. In 1985, GLAD launched the AIDS Law Project with the purpose of fighting AIDS-related discrimination, and in the early 1990s, it established the Civil Rights Project to focus on civil rights issues in the gay and lesbian community. GLAD rewrote its mission statement in 2000 to include the eradication of discrimination based on “gender identity and expression,” in addition to “sexual orientation and HIV status,” which led to the formal creation of the Transgender Rights Project in 2008. GLAD has also been committed to educating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the legal community, and the general public about the legal and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and of people with HIV.
Located in Boston since its inception, GLAD has primarily served the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. It divides its work into three major functions: Legal, Public Affairs & Education, and Development. The Legal department handles litigation and other legal matters and does most of GLAD’s legislative work. The Public Affairs & Education department fulfills GLAD’s mission to educate the public, while the Development department is responsible for generating funds to maintain and grow GLAD’s operations, which are primarily supported by donations.
Although GLAD is a thriving and influential organization, its establishment as a small organization run by volunteers has heavily influenced its administrative history. The organization is governed by a board of directors and run by an executive director, who is responsible for day-to-day operations. John Ward served as its first executive director until 1983. In that year, Kathy Travers became the second executive director of GLAD and its first full-time, paid employee. In 1984, attorney Kevin Cathcart took over the position, which he held for eight years. Throughout the 1980s, GLAD’s staff remained small, and the executive director was responsible for all of GLAD’s operations. GLAD relied on its relationships with outside attorneys to handle many of its cases. The office manager position became a full-time paid position in 1986, around the same time that GLAD hired its first staff attorney, Denise McWilliams, to direct the AIDS Law Project. The hiring of McWilliams increased the size of the full-time staff to three. By 1990, the full-time staff had grown to five with the addition of a development director in 1988 and another staff attorney, Mary Bonauto, in 1990. During the 1990s, GLAD continued to grow and had several executive directors: Josephine Ross (1992-1993), Jan Platner (1993-1995), Amelia Craig (1995-1997), and Gary Buseck (1997-2003). In times when the position was left vacant, GLAD staff attorneys Denise McWilliams (in 1992), Mary Bonauto (in 1995), and Bennett Klein (in 1997) stepped in as acting executive director. In 2005, Lee Swislow became the executive director. By 2010 GLAD had a staff of thirty, including eight attorneys, two distinct departments serving GLAD’s development and public affairs/education needs, and a budget of $3.1 million.
Some of GLAD’s notable cases include Doe v. McNiff (1978); Babets v. Johnston (1985), which addressed the right of same-sex couples to become foster parents; Bragdon v. Abbott (1995), which established that people living with HIV/AIDS are protected under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act; Rosa v. Park West Bank (2000) and Doe v. Yunits (2000), both of which affirmed the right of transgender people to legal protection against discrimination; Baker v. Vermont (1999), which led to the creation of civil unions in Vermont; and Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health (2003) and Kerrigan & Mock v. Dept. of Public Health (2008), which together established same-sex marriage in their respective states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
- AIDS (Disease) -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Bisexuals -- United States
- Civil rights
- Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders
- Gay men -- Legal status, laws, etc.
- Gay rights -- United States
- HIV-positive persons -- Civil rights -- United States
- HIV-positive persons -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Homosexuality -- Law and legislation -- United States
- LGBTQ resource
- Lesbians -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States
- Lesbians -- United States
- Same-sex marriage
- Sex discrimination -- United States
- Transgender people -- Legal status, laws, etc.
- Transsexuals -- United States
- Guide to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Records
- compiled by Mary Caldera, Susan Gualtier, Derek Jackson, Kyle Khellaf, Alicia Detelich and the staff of Manuscripts and Archives
- May 2011; revised March 2020
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
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Sterling Memorial Library
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New Haven, CT 06511