Evan Wolfson is known as the architect of the same-sex marriage movement. Having written his third year paper at Harvard Law in 1983 on the subject, Wolfson began advocating for the freedom to marry when the most gay rights leaders thought he was overreaching. After AIDS ravaged the LGBT community, and the need for legal protections became clear, Wolfson led the push for marriage. He fought the first successful legal battles, then founded a national organization, FREEDOM TO MARRY, which spearheaded the movement’s strategy. Wolfson spent decades criss-crossing America, guiding and leading the campaign to win hearts, minds and victories.
Mary Bonauto, legendary civil rights attorney (from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), has been chosen to represent the movement in this case. To most, this was no surprise. Mary has been fighting for this cause for decades – in court, in legislatures and even door to door. She helped guide the Vermont marriage battles in the mid 1990s, then won the landmark Goodridge case in 2003, making Massachusetts the nation’s first ‘marriage state’. A passionate soul, Mary has called the Thurgood Marshall of our times. But with little time to prepare, and having never argued before the Supreme Court before, even Mary Bonauto is nervous. She understands the stakes all too well.
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the plaintiffs, are Mary’s clients. April and Jayne have been together for more than 15 years, have adopted 4 children (2 each) and are in the process on a fifth. But in Michigan, lesbians are not allowed to marry. And, since unmarried people can’t co-adopt, if anything were to happen to either of them, half of their kids could be ‘orphaned’. The couple sued Michigan for the right to get married, but lost. They appealed and, the United States Supreme Court accepted to hear the case. Now, April and Jayne’s case could decide gay marriage for the entire nation.