Melissa Goodman joined the ACLU of Southern California as a senior staff attorney in October 2012. Melissa conducts legal and policy advocacy concerning LGBT rights, reproductive rights, gender equality, and the rights of people with HIV.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Southern California Melissa worked at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), where she directed the organization’s LGBT and reproductive rights work. At the NYCLU, she led the organization’s campaign to pass the Marriage Equality Act, which gives same-sex couples the freedom to marry, and a campaign for a statewide law to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. She served as co-counsel in Windsor v. United States, a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act filed by the ACLU, NYCLU, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Melissa provided legal assistance to LGBTQ students experiencing discrimination and harassment in schools. She also advocated for comprehensive and LGBTQ-inclusive sex education and co-authored a report entitled Birds, Bees, and Bias which examines sex-ed instruction in more than 80 New York public school districts. Melissa also conducted advocacy and public education to protect and expand the rights of all New York women and teens to make informed personal decisions about childbearing and to access affordable and confidential reproductive and sexual health care.
Melissa worked for six years as a staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Security Project, where she litigated cases concerning surveillance, excessive government secrecy, torture and detention, and the freedoms of speech and association. Her cases included challenges to the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the FBI and the Defense Department’s use of “national security letters,” the government’s practice of ideological exclusion, the U.S. military’s detention practices at Guantánamo and Bagram, and the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program.
Melissa is a former law clerk for the Hon. Judge Frederic Block of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She graduated magna cum laude from New York University’s College of Arts and Science in 2000 and she earned her J.D. from New York University in 2003, where she was awarded an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellowship, the John Perry Prize Award in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and was an articles editor for the Review of Law and Social Change.