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Mary L. Bonauto Named Icon of LGBT History

Equality Forum is honoring Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders’ Civil Rights Project Director, Mary L. Bonauto, as one of their icons for National LGBT History Month. Icons are selected for their significant contributions to LGBT civil rights and as role models in their fields.

“Mary’s skillful litigation has secured landmark rights and protections for the LGBT community over the past two decades,” said Lee Swislow, GLAD’s Executive Director. “We are proud of everything she has accomplished and she truly is a LGBT icon.”

Bonauto was lead counsel in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, which resulted in Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. She is currently leading GLAD’s challenge[s] to the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in two cases primed to be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

“What’s compelling is how bedrock American principles of justice and equality come to life in the stories of real people.  I agree with the many who have observed that the history of our constitution is the extension of those protections to those once ignored or excluded,” said Bonauto.

Bonauto is involved in litigation, lobbying and public education throughout New England on a wide variety of issues affecting the lives of LGBT people. She also served as co-counsel in Baker v. Vermont, which challenged the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage. The landmark 1999 ruling mandated in Vermont the country’s first civil unions with legal benefits similar to marriage.  She joined GLAD colleagues and Connecticut co-counsel in litigating Kerrigan v. Dept. of Public Health, which made Connecticut the third state to authorize marriage for same-sex couples.

In 2011, Boston Magazine named Bonauto one of the city’s “50 Most Powerful Women.” She was awarded Yale University’s Brudner prize for her contributions to the LGBT community. She has served as co-chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of the American Bar Association and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Boston Chapter of the American Constitution Society.  She is regularly named as a “Superlawyer” in Massachusetts and New England.

There are 31 total icons honored for LGBT history month, and a new icon is announced each day. A complete profile of Mary L. Bonauto will be released on Friday at www.lgbthistorymonth.com.

Equality Forum is a national and international LGBT civil rights organization with an educational focus and coordinates LGBT History Month.