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Topics In the News
Mary Bonauto Joins Legal Team Challenging Utah's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 08/27/14
Last updated on: 03/31/15
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Mary Bonauto, who has been described as the Thurgood Marshall of the marriage equality movement and has served as the civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) for more than two decades, will join the legal team challenging Utah's ban on same-sex marriage. Regarded as among the country's best litigators in the cause of marriage equality, Bonauto and GLAD's legal director Gary Buseck will join the team seeking a definitive ruling on the question of marriage equality from the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Kitchen v. Herbert.

Bonauto and Buseck will join Peggy Tomsic, whose firm, Magleby & Greenwod, represented the plaintiffs from the beginning of the lawsuit and who successfully argued the case before both the District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the the Tenth Circuit. Other members of the team now include Kate Kendell and Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who aided in the appeal to the Tenth Circuit. Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal also recently joined the team in preparation for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Shannon Minter told Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed, "We are thrilled to be adding Mary Bonauto, Gary Buseck and GLAD to the Utah legal team." He added, "Mary and Gary bring an unparalleled depth of experience and expertise litigating the constitutional issues raised by these historic cases. NCLR and GLAD have a long history of working together, and we are honored to be partnering on such an important case at such a critical time in the movement for marriage equality."

Bonauto told Geidner that she and her GLAD colleagues are "very excited" to be joining what she called "such a strong team."

Bonauto may be best known for her success in the Goodridge case that brought marriage equality to Massachusetts. In addition to litigating marriage equality cases in state courts throughout New England, however, she has also won important victories in federal court. In Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management and Pederson v. Office of Personnel Management, she persuaded federal courts to declare DOMA unconstitutional.

Utah recently asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the Tenth Circuit ruling in Kitchen that declared the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In an unusual move, the plaintiffs in the case have also asked the high court to accept the appeal.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear a marriage equality case next term, but it is not required to do so, and it is not clear which case(s) it will hear, though the Utah case and the Virginia case (Bostic v. Schaefer) are leading candidates. The first meeting the justices have scheduled to decide cases to review is on October 10, 2014.

In the video below, Mary Bonauto discusses gay rights with the American Constitution Society.

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