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American Constitution Society Honors GLAD’s Janson Wu

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Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (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,” said 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,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD.  “His dedication, smarts, and compassion exemplify the best of civil rights litigation – and he wins, too!”

David Carliner (1918- 2007) was a pioneering immigration lawyer, an ardent foe of Jim Crow laws, and a leading champion of full political rights for the citizen of the District of Columbia He was also the founding chair of the American Civil Liberties Union-National Capital Area and the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights.)  Mr. Carliner won a landmark decision in 1965 when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a gay federal employee was wrongfully fired.

Before coming to GLAD, Janson worked as a coordinating attorney with Tri-City Community Action Program, a multi-service, anti-poverty organization, where he provided legal services to low-income individuals. Prior to that, Janson was an associate at the litigation law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in San Francisco. In California, he volunteered on an LGBT anti-violence hotline, for the Lawyer’s Committee of Civil Rights, and for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

He is a member of the bars of Massachusetts and California, and serves on the ABA’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, as a Vice Chair of the Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Committee of the IRR Section of the ABA, and on the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Janson is a graduate of both Harvard University and Harvard Law School and was named a 2011 Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40” by the National LGBT Bar Association.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.