Jon W. Davidson is Legal Director at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV. He is based in the Western Regional Office.
Davidson has won legal victories ranging from protecting the rights of LGBT students, to helping secure asylum for LGBT people persecuted in their home countries, to stopping HIV-related discrimination. Davidson also has helped reform antigay practices of the Los Angeles Police Department and was the co-drafter of AB 205, California's comprehensive Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act.
Davidson was lead counsel in lawsuits that succeeded in forcing school boards in both Salt Lake City and Orange, California, to allow LGBT students and their straight supporters to meet together and express themselves on the same terms afforded other students. His representation of Derek Henkle, who suffered severe harassment and abuse from fellow students in the Reno, Nevada, school system, established the precedent that high school students have the constitutional right to be open at school about their sexual orientation and led to the largest pretrial award ever in such a case, as well as sweeping changes in the school district's policies. The friend-of-the-court brief Davidson authored in Rene v. MGM Grand Hotel was instrumental in allowing gay employees to pursue claims for sexual harassment under federal employment discrimination law. He has also been co-counsel in lawsuits seeking the freedom to marry in California and defending California's domestic partner laws.
Davidson joined Lambda Legal in 1995, and previously served as Senior Counsel in its Western Regional Office. Prior to that, Davidson was head of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the ACLU of Southern California, whose staff he joined in 1988. From 1980 to 1988, Davidson was an associate, and then a partner, at Irell & Manella, one of Los Angeles's leading law firms, where he specialized in litigation involving the media and the entertainment industry.
From 1979 to 1980, Davidson served as a law clerk to Hon. William Matthew Byrne, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Davidson has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Southern California Law Center, Loyola Law School, Whittier Law School and UCLA School of Law, where he has taught law classes dealing with sexual orientation and HIV-related issues. The Stanford University and Yale Law School graduate also has served as an advisory member of the Subcommittee on Sexual Orientation Fairness of the California State Judicial Council's Committee on Access and Fairness and of the Legal Advisory Committee to Los Angeles's HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance. In 2004, Davidson was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal.