Mary Bonauto has been selected by lawyers who support same-sex marriage to argue what’s being called a “landmark case” to the Supreme Court about whether it’s unconstitutional to disallow gay people to get married. Bonauto has earned herself a reputation for being one of the most outspoken advocates for gay rights, so those who support same-sex marriage could not have chosen a stronger competitor in the landmark case determining the rights of same-sex couples.
According to Reuters, Bonauto is a litigator with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. She has worked to develop legal strategies to allow gay people to get married for almost two decades. Lawyers selected Mary Bonauto to serve as the voice for gay rights in the landmark case after many days and careful consideration.
Bonauto won’t be arguing alone in this landmark case, she’ll be joined by Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, a former solicitor general. According to the Human Rights Campaign blog, Bonauto and Hallward-Driemeier will be representing the plaintiff Jim Obergefell, along with many others in the four states in which same-sex marriage has been disputed; Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Members of the Human Rights Campaign seem thrilled with the lineup of the attorneys advocating their cause in the landmark case, describing Bonauto as “one of the leading architects of marriage equality litigation.”
Some of Bonauto’s accomplishments include the 1999 Baker v. State of Vermont case, which was a landmark case of its own wherein the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex marriage grants the couple the exact same benefits and legal protections of a heterosexual marriage. Bonauto also won another landmark case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which led Massachusetts to rule in favor of marriage equality.
The hope of gay rights activists is that Bonauto and Hallward-Driemeier will help to nudge the Supreme Court the extra bit necessary to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. But the court most often makes their decisions based on written briefs, so the lawyers in the landmark case do not have complete control of the outcome.
The arguments the Supreme Court will consider in the case will be whether or not the United States Constitution implicitly permits the marriage of same-sex couples, and, if not, should states that have banned gay marriage legally recognize a union between same-sex people that was performed in a state where gay marriage is legal. 37 out of 50 of the states have legalized gay marriage, and the arguments presented by Bonauto during the case could set a precedent that will lead many more to marriage equality.
The gay marriage landmark case will take place on April 28. For another landmark case about homeschooling, read about the woman who retained custody of her kids after a long legal battle.
[Image courtesy of NUSL]