HRC Hails Appointments of Catherine Lhamon and Debo Adegbile to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

by Sarah McBride

Washington – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, hailed President Obama’s appointment of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon and attorney Debo P. Adegbile to six-year terms on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The bipartisan, independent Commission on Civil Rights is charged with advising the development of civil rights policy and enhancing enforcement of federal nondiscrimination statutes.  It routinely holds hearings and issues reports on the interpretation and enforcement of U.S. civil rights laws. Recently, the Commission endorsed efforts by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice ensuring that transgender students are treated with dignity in public and federally-funded schools, and this month issued a statement expressing deep concern over the troubling increase in hate crimes in the U.S.

“Catherine Lhamon and Debo Adegbile have dedicated their careers to defending and strengthening our civil rights laws,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director. “As the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon worked with educators and administrators across the country to ensure that transgender students were granted equal protection from discrimination in our nation’s schools and colleges. And from advocacy to litigation, Debo Adegbile has fought to protect the promise of our civil and voting rights laws in courthouses, at the Supreme Court, and on Capitol Hill.”

“Their commitment to the full enforcement of our civil rights statutes make Catherine Lhamon and Debo Adegbile preeminently qualified to serve on the commission tasked with protecting the rights enshrined in many of our nation’s most cherished laws,” Warbelow continued.

As Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon has worked to improve the way college campuses combat sexual assault and ensure life-saving protections for transgender students. Before serving as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Lhamon served as Director of Impact Litigation at Public Counsel, and earlier worked at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Debo P. Adegbile is a partner at the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP. Adegbile served as Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and as Acting President and Director-Counsel, among other positions, at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Adegbile has argued multiple times before the U.S. Supreme Court, including in a 2008 defense of the Voting Rights Act.

To learn more about HRC’s federal advocacy work, visit

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.​

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