GLAD’s Spirit of Justice Award Dinner Honors Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
Photo: Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
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Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall  Photo: Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
Photo: Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

The Award Event Marks 10th Anniversary of Goodridge Decision

BOSTON, Mass.—Ten years after the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health made Massachusetts the first state in the U.S. where same-sex couples could marry, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) will honor the author of that decision, Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

“The decision not only transformed the lives of LGBT people in our Commonwealth, it changed the country, shone light on the lives of LGBT people, and set us all on an amazing journey,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “We are thrilled to honor Chief Justice Marshall not only for this eloquent and historic opinion, but for her lifelong commitment to justice for everyone.”

In Goodridge, GLAD represented seven same-sex couples who wished to marry. Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto argued the case before the Supreme Judicial Court on March 4, 2003, and the world-changing decision was issued on November 18, 2003.

As an undergraduate in her native South Africa, Marshall was elected president of the National Union of South African Students, a leading anti-apartheid organization. She came to the United States for post-graduate studies in 1968 and became a United States citizen in 1978. Marshall was both the first woman General Counsel for Harvard University and the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

In that role, Marshall was the author of more than 300 decisions, many of them ground-breaking, and was committed to both judicial transparency and access to justice. Her judicial reforms included strengthening pro bono services by the bar, and implementing innovative procedures for self-representation. [pullquote]“The decision not only transformed the lives of LGBT people in our Commonwealth, it changed the country, shone light on the lives of LGBT people, and set us all on an amazing journey,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “We are thrilled to honor Chief Justice Marshall not only for this eloquent and historic opinion, but for her lifelong commitment to justice for everyone.”[/pullquote]

For Marshall, who left the bench in December 2010 and is now senior counsel at Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, Goodridge was both ordinary and extraordinary. “Every time a decision is issued by any judge it is huge in the life of the litigants,” she explained.

But few judicial decisions become part of the canon of wedding readings. Passages from the Goodridge decision are read at weddings around the country between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike. “Ten years later I still meet people who tell me what a difference the decision has made in their life, or what a difference the decision has made in the life of somebody they know and love. That has made the decision somewhat unusual for me,” she said.

Chief Justice Marshall will accept the award at the 14th Annual Spirit of Justice Award Dinner at the Boston Copley Marriot on October 25, 2013. Details about the event are available at www.glad.org/events.

The Diamond Sponsor of the Spirit of Justice Award Dinner is Reproductive Science Center. The Gold Sponsor is Macy’s, and Silver Sponsors are DLA Piper, Holland & Knight LLP, Liberty Mutual. The event’s co-chairs are Joyce Kauffman and André Campagna.

Past Spirit of Justice honorees include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his family, Reverend Irene Monroe, Bishop Gene Robinson, Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Tim Gill, Laurence Tribe, Beth Robinson, Mandy Carter, Reverend William Sinkford, GLAD Founder John Ward, and GLAD Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto.

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

[From a News Release]