ABA names recipients of Stonewall Award honoring LGBT advancements in the legal professionEditorial, Online Only, Top Highlights, Around the Nation Saturday, September 19th, 2015
CHICAGO — Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its third annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 6, 2016, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego.
Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes.
The 2016 award recipients:
Thomas Fitzpatrick, the first openly gay person to be elected to the ABA Board of Governors, who worked to make the ABA a more inclusive and supportive place for LGBT, including working to expand the association’s diversity goal to include sexual orientation and gender identity and to create the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. A partner at Talmadge Fitzpatrick Tribe in Seattle, he practices in the areas of professional responsibility, municipal law, land use and litigation. A graduate of the University of Montana and University of Chicago Law School, from 1999 to 2004, he was the assistant chief of the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Civil Division and served as executive director of Snohomish County from 2005-06.
Abby Rubenfeld, who filed the Tennessee lawsuit in 2013 that led the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage in June, has been an attorney and legal director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, serves on the board of the Human Rights Campaign, and has worked with the Tennessee Equality Project, American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, among other advocacy groups. A graduate of Princeton University and Boston University Law School, she worked to overturn Tennessee’s sodomy law in 1996. Rubenfeld is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and former chair of the ABA Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section.
Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group favoring same-sex marriage in the United States, is considered by many the father of the same-sex marriage movement. The author of the 2004 book “Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry,” Wolfson graduated from Yale College and served in the Peace Corps in Togo in west Africa before getting his law degree at Harvard Law School. After stints that included teaching philosophy at Harvard, serving as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn and as associate counsel to Laurence Walsh in the Office of Independent Counsel, Wolfson worked for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund from 1989 to 2001 before leaving to form Freedom to Marry in 2001. In 2004, Time magazine included Wolfson on its list of the “100 most influential people in the world.”
“The American Bar Association is pleased to recognize these three gay rights pioneers. Each has been a forceful voice for LGBT inclusion and legal progress,” said Mark Johnson Roberts, chair of the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
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