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Congratulations to Therese Stewart
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/29/14
Last updated on: 06/30/14
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Congratulations to Therese M. Stewart, who on June 28, 2014 was nominated by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on California's First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. Since 2002, Stewart has served as San Francisco's Chief Deputy City Attorney, and has led the city's litigation efforts to secure marriage equality, including in challenges to Proposition 8. If Stewart's appointment is approved by the state's Commission on Judicial Appointments, she will be the state's first openly lesbian appellate judge.

In response to the news of Stewart's nomination, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued the following statement: "Terry Stewart was my very first hire after I was elected City Attorney, and it has been an extraordinary honor to have someone with her intelligence, dedication and passionate commitment to justice serve as my chief deputy for more than a dozen years."

Herrera added: "I'd be lying if I didn't concede a degree of personal disappointment in knowing that she won't be standing by my side in the City Attorney's Office anymore. But I am incredibly proud of Terry for all she has accomplished in her career, for her appointment to the California Court of Appeal today, and for shattering one more historic barrier as California's first lesbian-identified appellate court justice. On a weekend in which San Francisco celebrates LGBT equality, Terry Stewart's historic appointment is still more cause to celebrate--not just for the LGBT community, but for all Californians who'll be so ably served by her remarkable gifts on the judiciary."

Stewart argued on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco in the trilogy of cases advocating for marriage equality at the California Supreme Court. She also led the team of San Francisco deputy city attorneys intervening as plaintiffs in the federal case challenging Proposition 8.

Stewart holds a B.A. from Cornell and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

As an American Bar Association profile of her notes, in 2004, Stewart defended Mayor Newsom when he directed the county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of state law. The defense was unsuccessful, but Stewart "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by filing San Francisco's challenge to the state's discriminatory marriage laws." Representing San Francisco in the In re Marriage cases, she won the California Supreme Court decision that brought marriage equality to the Golden State for some months until Proposition 8 was passed.

When Proposition 8 passed, Stewart represented a group of cities and counties that challenged it in state court. After losing there, she represented San Francisco when it intervened as a plaintiff in the federal challenge, the case that became known as Hollingsworth v. Perry. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2013 that the proponents of Prop 8 lacked standing to appeal, marriage equality returned to California.

Stewart has received The Bar Association of San Francisco Foundation's highest honor, the Champion of Justice Award, and the California Bar Journal's prestigious CLAY award for civil rights. She was featured on the cover of the American Lawyer in 2004 and profiled as one of "Ten Lawyers Who Shaped a Decade" by the Daily Journal in 2010.

Stewart was awarded the ABA's Margaret Brent Award for "her decades of extraordinary advocacy--in both the private and public sectors--in support of women, minorities, the LGBT community and other marginalized groups."

In the video below, from 2011, Stewart describes her career as an openly lesbian attorney.

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