Despite being a New York native, Meaghan Hearn had known since college she wanted to live in Washington.
The 28-year-old West Nyack, N.Y., native (it’s 30 minutes northwest of New York City) had gone to law school at Syracuse and growing up had spent every other weekend in the Big Apple. Her parents are divorced and her father lived there so she was there all the time going to baseball, hockey and basketball games. And “one or two” Broadway shows.
“New York is nice, but D.C. is so much cleaner, nicer and better and it has all the things I love about New York without all the other stuff,” she says.
She’s been here since August of 2008 shortly after successfully finishing her bar exams. She began her career doing pro bono work as a D.C. public defender and odd paralegal jobs wherever she could find them. She met Glen Ackerman coming out of jail where she’d met with a client. She eventually joined his general practice law firm where she does mostly criminal defense work. She likes the firm because she can be out.
“Everybody at the office is living who they really are whether they’re gay or straight,” she says. “Everybody there really prides themselves on that.”
Hearn and her girlfriend live together in Columbia Heights. She enjoys going to Nationals games, museums, American history, fishing and is training for her first half marathon this fall.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for about four or five years now, but I’ve known I was a lesbian for as long as I can remember. The hardest people to tell were members of my family, but they were incredibly supportive. I am incredible fortunate to have amazing friends and family.
Who is your LGBT hero?
My heroes are the young children who are strong and confident enough to come out at such an early age and live who they are.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Any place that has a good vibe, good music and a decent selection of craft beers is all right by me.
Describe your dream wedding.
It doesn’t matter where the wedding is. So long as I am marrying the person I love, my family and friends are there the rest is not that important to me.
What not gay issue are you most passionate about?
Juvenile justice issues. Too often, children are placed in this legal system and they don’t fully understand what is going on because no one takes the time to explain it to them. Children deserve to have an advocate who will speak and argue for them and vigorously protect their interests.
What historical outcome would you change?
The Citizens United decision rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court. I am simply appalled that there are now no monetary limits on how much a corporation, or even a non-profit, can contribute to a candidate for his or her election. In no way, shape, or form is that protected speech under the First Amendment.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
It’s not really a pop culture moment, but what I will always remember Tim Russert using his dry-erase whiteboard during the coverage of the 2000 presidential election, explaining why Florida’s electoral votes were so important and finishing with, “Florida! Florida! Florida!”
On what do you insist?
Honesty — in both my personal and professional life. Representing a client is made infinitely harder if that person is not completely honest with me about the circumstances and facts surrounding his or her case.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Back to the grind of civilization after an awesome weekend of no phone/computer/Facebook/Twitter/texting/TV/Netflix”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Life and Times of Meaghan E. Hearn — Attorney at Law.” It would reach the top of the New York Times bestseller list within a week.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Run for the hills. I’ve been the happiest I have ever been since I came out, so why would I want to go back to where I was before?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m confident that there’s some sort of afterlife or heaven. Whether it’s full of white, puffy clouds and harps — who knows? I’m a firm believer that if you’re a genuinely good person, you’ll have a ticket into whatever heaven there is. If you’re not a good person, you’ll be stuck at a never-ending Tea Party rally where Dick Cheney, Glen Beck and Michele Bachmann continually give keynote speeches.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The movement has to keep its momentum. I am so proud that my home state of New York recently passed the Marriage Equality Act, but we can’t back down. We need to keep pushing forward until we are granted the same rights as our straight peers, and offered equal protection under every state and federal law.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Right now … a vacation!
What gay stereotype annoys you most?
The argument from conservatives that two moms or two dads are somehow unfit and unable to raise children. Same-sex couples, and even single parents, can give all the love, guidance and support a child needs to grow up happy and healthy.
What’s your favorite gay movie?
My favorite gay movie, or miniseries, is hands-down “Angels In America.” The cast is phenomenal, and the individual plot line for each character – and how Tony Kushner intertwines and ties them all together – captures me every time I watch it.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong – I’m romantic, but I just never understood why Valentine’s Day is so important. I would much rather spend my time and energy on showing my girlfriend how special she is on a daily basis.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
While I was in law school, I participated in the school’s trial advocacy programs and was selected to be a part of the school’s national trial teams. One of the teams I was on won first place at the Buffalo-Niagara Trail Team Competition, and it is one of the awards that I am most proud of. We went in as underdogs, and no one thought we would advance out of the first round. The award is a reminder of what you can achieve with perseverance and hard work, even when no one believes you can succeed.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had known it was OK to be me. College would have been a lot more fun!
I was a college intern here in D.C., and by the end of my first week in the city I knew this is the place were I wanted to live and start my career as an attorney. This town is where history is made — I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!