Law & Policy
For nearly 30 years, attorneys from the Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services Program have been working side-by-side with WWH physicians, therapists, addiction treatment specialists, and case managers to provide holistic care to people living with HIV and to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. In the early 1980s, in the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic in the Washington area, Whitman-Walker was the first to respond by offering medical care and other services to those infected, information to combat fear and widespread misunderstanding, and HIV testing and prevention counseling. Legal services were part of our holistic response to the epidemic. First with Whitman-Walker Executive Director Jim Graham, then with a small but dedicated team of staff and volunteers, we responded to urgent requests for help from individuals and couples fearful of dying without wills, or needing advance medical directives for hospital stays, or facing discrimination from hospitals, doctors, employers and landlords, or needing help with health insurance or disability. In the three decades since those early days, our Legal Services Program has continued to be a national leader in the medical-legal response to the changing epidemic.
While our HIV-related services have always been available to everyone without regard to sexual orientation or gender, Whitman-Walker Legal Services has always been active in legal matters of concern to the LGBTQ community beyond HIV, including access to healthcare, protections against discrimination, legal protections for personal and family autonomy, and asylum and other legal protections for LGBTQ foreign nationals facing persecution in their home countries. In recent years, our services have expanded to include transgender legal issues and unique issues faced by LGBTQ elders.