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June 18, 2012

American Constitution Society Honors GLAD’s Janson Wu

GLAD Staff Attorney Janson Wu was named the 2012 recipient of the American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award, becoming the first LGBT-identified attorney to receive the honor.  The Carliner Award recognizes “outstanding mid-career public interest lawyers whose work best exemplifies its namesake’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.” 

“I’m humbled to receive this award for doing work that I love, particularly fighting for transgender rights and marriage equality,” says Janson.  “I hope to honor David Carliner’s amazing legacy by fighting for the most disadvantaged and unpopular in our communities, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Janson joined GLAD’s legal staff in May 2006.  He was lead attorney on a variety of successful cases involving transgender rights, including Freeman v. Realty Resources Hospitality, a case in which Denny’s restaurant in Maine refused to allow a transgender patron use the appropriate bathroom.  After Janson’s summary judgment argument, Denny’s agreed to a settlement which included a new policy respecting transgender customers.  Janson was also a pivotal member of the coalition that defeated a right-wing attempt to cut transgender people out of Maine’s anti-discrimination law.

In addition to his transgender work, Janson is a member of the legal team litigating GLAD’s two cases challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  One of those cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, recently became the first case to win a judgment from a federal appeals court that DOMA is unconstitutional.  He also provided crucial legislative lawyering and strategic thinking to the coalition that successfully achieved and then defended marriage equality through the New Hampshire legislature.

The award was presented to Janson on Saturday June 16 at the ACS National Convention in Washington, DC by Sarah Remes, Mr. Carliner’s granddaughter.

“We’re extraordinarily proud of Janson,” says Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD.  “His dedication, smarts, and compassion exemplify the best of civil rights litigation – and he wins, too!”

Read full story here.