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Congratulations to Judge Mary Yu
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 05/02/14
Last updated on: 05/02/14
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Judge Mary Yu.

Congratulations to King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu who has been named to replace Justice Jim Johnson on the Washington Supreme Court. Governor Jay Inslee announced the appointment on May 1, 2014. Johnson, who is stepping down for health reasons, is the court's most conservative member. Wu will be the court's first Asian American, first Latina, and first openly gay member of the court. Yu will have to run to retain the seat in an election later this year.

As Jim Camden reported in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Inslee announced the appointment at an Olympia press conference on May 1 with Johnson and the other eight justices standing behind him. He praised Yu as a judge with great intellect, dedication, and compassion and said "her personal story adds a unique perspective that is important as our state's demographics continue to shift."

Yu's father emigrated from China at age 7; her mother from Mexico at 2. They met while working at a factory in Chicago.

In addition to a law degree, Yu holds degrees in religious studies and theology from Notre Dame. She worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago and later the Washington state Conference of Catholic Bishops before joining the King County prosecutor's office. She was appointed to the Superior Court bench by Governor Gary Locke in 2000.

After voters approved marriage equality in November 2012, Yu performed the first same-sex wedding in King County at Seattle City Hall at 12:01 a.m. on December 9, 2012, the day the law took effect.

In contrast, Johnson, a former assistant attorney general who was elected to the Supreme Court in 2004 and re-elected in 2010, wrote the controlling decision in Anderson v. King County, a 2005 case in which eight lesbian and gay couples challenged Washington's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. In a 5-4 decision, a bitterly divided court held that the law denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry was constitutional.

The YouTube video below depicts Judge Yu presiding over Seattle's first legal gay wedding on December 9, 2012.

The video below captures the excitement of the historic day when dozens of gay and lesbian couples were married at Seattle City Hall.

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