Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Then Comes Marriage: Kaplan lays it all to bare
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service
2015-10-25

This article shared 4758 times since Sun Oct 25, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


A new book provides a rare glimpse into something LGBT civil rights attorneys are loath to talk about: How much they bicker behind-the-scenes.

The book is Then Comes Marriage, about the high-profile litigation to end the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ), which denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. In the book, New York attorney Roberta Kaplan acknowledges bluntly how her effort to represent an elderly client, Edie Windsor, ran up against the effort of Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ) to press two of its own cases.

One of GLAD's cases was in Massachusetts, which comes under the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, but the second case was in Connecticut, which comes under the Second Circuit. Kaplan's case in Manhattan also fell under the Second Circuit. Once both cases got to the appeals level, she points out, they would be "in direct competition as to which case would get decided first."

Publicly, attorneys for all the DOMA lawsuits maintained a veneer of camaraderie: It didn't matter who got to the U.S. Supreme Court first as long as one of them got there and DOMA was struck down.

That veneer cracked in May 2009, just as Kaplan was putting her lawsuit together. GLAD and other national LGBT groups signed onto a press release warning, "Most lawsuits will likely set us all back." At the time, most observers believed the press release was aimed at Ted Olson and David Boies and their federal lawsuit against the California state ban on marriage for same-sex couples. But Kaplan felt it was aimed at her, too.

"[I]f the major gay rights organizations had had their way, we never would have filed Edie's lawsuit in the first place," wrote Kaplan in Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA. In fact, the nation's oldest and best-known LGBT litigation group, Lambda Legal Defense, declined to help Windsor. And the ACLU, which ultimately joined Kaplan, was hesitant at first, citing fear of stepping on the toes of the well-respected GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto. After leading the fight that propelled Massachusetts into becoming the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry in 2004, Bonauto had become a national marriage equality champion.

Kaplan said she decided not even to consult with Bonauto about her lawsuit.

"My fear was that Mary and I would get into an argument that might make the relationship difficult going forward," wrote Kaplan. But to appease the ACLU, Kaplan did agree to delay filing her case in New York until GLAD was ready to file its case in Connecticut.

There were other political concerns behind-the-scenes, too. Kaplan had become sensitive to a growing discomfort among judges that some lawsuits —such as GLAD's— were not simply advocating for one aggrieved client's legal rights. They were carefully selecting a group of clients to advance a social and political agenda. And Second Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs was one of those judges.

With an eye on this attitude, Kaplan was determined to keep the focus of her lawsuit on "Edie Windsor and her tax payment —nothing more and nothing less."

That was easier said than done.

First, Kaplan was suing the United States government for forcing Windsor to pay estate taxes on property Windsor shared with her late spouse, Thea Spyer. Under the law, women who survived their male spouses didn't have to pay estate taxes. But because Windsor's spouse had been a woman, the Internal Revenue Service demanded Windsor pay $363,000 in estate taxes. To help "Edie Windsor and her tax payment," Kaplan would have to take down DOMA, a highly controversial and politically volatile law. And if DOMA was struck down, then the possibility of striking down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples around the country would become much more likely. The consequences of the lawsuit went far beyond Edie Windsor's tax bill.

Second, as charming, attractive, and likeable as Edie Windsor was and is, "she was not shy" about speaking the truth in public about why her and Spyer's relationship had endured more than 40 years: "Keep it hot." Kaplan worried that kind of candor would have political consequences beyond the tax bill, too.

"As innocuous as that…phrase might seem," wrote Kaplan, "I wanted the judges ( and potentially Supreme Court justices ) to see Edie and Thea's relationship for its qualities of commitment and love, not for anything having remotely to do with their sex life. It just seemed safer that way."

Meanwhile, the ACLU, worried Windsor's image as a "privileged rich lady" was "not a story that's going to move people." The ACLU urged Kaplan to keep the $363,000 figure out of the press.

But Kaplan disagreed. Windsor's wealth was modest by Manhattan standards. Plus, figured Kaplan, "What do conservative right-wingers dislike even more than gay marriage? Taxes."

Both Kaplan and GLAD's cases reached the Supreme Court at the same time, along with GLAD's case from the First Circuit and another DOMA challenge from the Ninth Circuit. Both of GLAD's cases involved groups of carefully selected clients and, newly minted Justice Elena Kagan had —while serving as Solicitor General— been involved in discussions about the GLAD case from the First Circuit. The California case, Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, had not yet gone through the full appeal process.

Thus, it was Kaplan's case the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear in March 2013. Many attorneys rushed to offer Kaplan advice on how to present her argument to the court. One even suggested she "de-gay" the case —advice she dismissed as "absurd."

Kaplan also acknowledges that part of her argument before the Supreme Court "irked some in the LGBT rights community." She told the justices that Edie Windsor should not have to pay the estate tax because New York recognized marriages of same-sex couples at that time. If Spyer had died in North Carolina or some other state that prohibited recognition of marriages between same-sex spouses, Kaplan conceded, then Windsor would have to pay the estate taxes.

"My job was to win Edie's case," explains Kaplan, "…not to make broader arguments about what position the Obama administration would or should take with respect to states like North Carolina that did not then have marriage equality…."

In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA, and two years later, Kaplan sat in the Supreme Court as Bonauto argued the case to strike down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.

Kaplan rightly accepts some of the credit for the fall of DOMA and the rise of marriage equality for herself and Edie Windsor. And she fairly acknowledges the contributions of so many others —legal activists, judges, plaintiffs, and family members— toward her success and the movement's ultimate victory. Her willingness to write about the internal tensions within the LGBT legal community during one of its most historic struggles is both refreshing and instructive. Her decision to provide anonymity to most of her annoying critics is both noble and wise. Her ability to translate complex legal issues into the language of a non-attorney reader is impressive ( and due at least in part to her "ghost writer" Lisa Dickey ). And the personal journey she lays to bare —evolving from a painfully closeted conservative to a headline-making lesbian attorney activist— is a riveting drama that is, in and of itself, worthy of the read.

Related coverage at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Attorney-who-helped-defeat-DOMA-talks-about-Edie-Windsor/53224.html


This article shared 4758 times since Sun Oct 25, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

BOOKS Twelfth (and final) 'Boystown' cover revealed 2021-10-17
- Boystown author Jake Biondi has revealed the cover of the twelfth book of his series—while simultaneously sharing that the next installment will be the final one. Boystown: Season Twelve: The Final Season will be released in ...


Gay News

BOOK REVIEW Activist Peter Staley's Memoir 'Never Silent' is a real-life thriller 2021-10-13
--From marksking.com - "Attention must be paid to such a man." — Arthur Miller Peter Staley's much-anticipated new memoir, Never Silent, opens with almost unbearable nail-biting suspense, sweeping us into the behind-the-scenes machinations of an ACT UP takeover of ...


Gay News

Achy Obejas' bilingual poetry book Boomerang/Bumeran explores immigration, liberation 2021-10-11
By Max Lubbers - Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer, translator and activist. Boomerang/Bumerán, her newest book, confronts questions of immigration, love and liberation. Like a boomerang, these ideas return throughout the collection, even ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Victory Institute, LGBTQ books, youth items, NASA, LGBTQ Nation 2021-10-10
- LGBTQ Victory Institute and nine additional candidate-training organizations announced a partnership with Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, to provide a native-to-mobile tool to encourage young people to run for office, a press release noted. ...


Gay News

Book about musician Tori Amos' works coming out 2021-10-07
- The book Tori Amos: every album, every song—by rock journalist Lisa Torem—will be out in the United States on Friday, Oct. 29, courtesy of Sonic Bond Publishing. In 1992, Amos—an acclaimed singer, pianist and composer—achieved fame ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Thirteen Days 2021-09-29
- Thirteen Days. adapted by Brian Pastor from the book by Robert F. Kennedy At: City Lit Theatre at Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1030 West Bryn Mawr Ave., Tickets: $27-$32. Runs through: Oct. 24 Palace Intrigue has been ...


Gay News

Lambda Literary to expand LGBTQ Writers in Schools Program in New York City schools 2021-09-27
--From a press release - New York, NY — Today, Lambda Literary announced that New York City has quadrupled its investment in the organization's LGBTQ Writers in Schools program, increasing funding from $100,000 to $400,000 to reach 10,000 students and provide ...


Gay News

Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson on new book, 'Our Fair Share' 2021-09-22
- In Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson's new book, Our Fair Share: How One Small Change Can Create a More Equitable American Economy, he posits that receiving a Citizen Dividend will help all U.S. residents achieve ...


Gay News

BOOKS 'Mission Possible' released before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' anniversary 2021-09-20
- C. Dixon Osburn, co-founder and former CEO of the Servicmembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), has written Mission Possible: The Story of the Repealing 'Don't Ask Don't Tell. This is the inside story of SLDN, which was ...


Gay News

Women & Children First hosting virtual event with Anita Hill on Sept. 29 2021-09-11
- Anita Hill—the University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University who played a major role in the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas—will be part ...


Gay News

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame announces 2021 class of new inductees 2021-08-18
--From a press release - Chicago, August 17, 2021 — The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame (CLHOF) announced that its 2021 Class of Inductees will include Frank London Brown, Jeanette Howard Foster, Carlos Cortez, and Gene Wolfe. The inductees will be ...


Gay News

Chicago-area author releases book about gay, autistic African-American 2021-08-18
- PenPower Book Marketing Services and Chicago-area author Jaire Sims have released his debut young adult novel, Getting By, which was named a finalist in the African American (Fiction) category in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book ...


Gay News

Printers Row Lit Fest returns to Chicago Sept. 11-12 2021-08-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO (August 12, 2021) Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, returns for its 36th year with 100% free programming for book lovers the weekend after Labor Day, Saturday, Sept. ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Rent 2021-08-10
- Playwright: book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson At: Possibilities Theatre Company at NorthCenter Town Square, 4100 N. Damen Ave. Tickets: suggested donation $20; https://www.eventcombo.com/e/rent-43212 or ...


Gay News

Equality Illinois' new deputy director talks goals, position and books 2021-08-01
- On July 15, Mony Ruiz-Velasco officially started in the new position of Equality Illinois' deputy director. Ruiz-Velasco is an experienced attorney who has worked for immigrants rights for many years, and has even been the legal ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.