Suffolk University Law School is gathering together jurists and lawyers who have participated in precedent-setting gay rights cases, along with scholars, for an April 5 conference that will address the changing landscape of gay rights since 2003.
It has been a decade since two landmark cases -- Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a sodomy law, and Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which legalized same-sex marriage -- spurred rapid changes for gay rights in the United States. The Lawrence and Goodridge at 10 conference at the Law School will analyze the roles of the three branches of government in forming policies and laws that affect the rights of gays and lesbians. It also will look at the relative influences of the legal bar and advocacy groups in the development of socio-political movements.
The conference, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 5, 2013, at Suffolk Law School, 120 Tremont St., Boston, comes on the heels of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on two same-sex marriage cases.
“This important conference will be a reunion of sorts for some of the great legal minds who saw that gay and lesbian citizens were being denied the rights and privileges that other members of society enjoyed,” said Suffolk Law Dean Camille Nelson. “A majority of Americans now favor making same-sex marriage legal, whereas only 22 percent approved in 2004. This conference gives us an opportunity to explore how government, the legal community and others have contributed to this social revolution.”
Among the panelists are:
Hon. Margaret Marshall, retired chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and coauthor of the Goodridge decision
Hon. John M. Greaney, retired justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts who wrote a concurring opinion in the Goodridge case. Greaney, who also wrote the opinion in a case allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in Massachusetts, is director of the Macaronis Institute for Trial and Appellate Advocacy at Suffolk University Law School
- Mary Bonauto, lead counsel in Goodridge and coordinator of the amicus strategy in U.S. v. Windsor, challenging a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court
- Hon. Vaughn R. Walker, formerly of the U.S. District Court and trial judge for Hollingsworth v. Perry, now before the Supreme Court, which challenges California’s denial of same-sex marriage rights through Proposition 8
- Paul Smith, lead counsel in Lawrence v. Texas
Topics to be addressed through the conference include Judicial Independence and Social Change, Comparative Constitutionalism and Litigating in Charged Cultural Contexts.
Joining Suffolk University Law School’s Advanced Legal Studies program in presenting the conference are sponsor Foley Hoag LLP; contributors American Constitution Society, Bingham McCutchen LLP and Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association; and supporters Boston Bar Association, Center for Women's Health & Human Rights, Flaschner Judicial Institute, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), National Lawyers Guild-Massachusetts Chapter and the Suffolk Queer Law Alliance.