March 31, 2015 at 9:31 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Bonauto tapped to argue before Supreme Court in marriage cases
Mary Bonauto, gay news, Washington Blade

Mary Bonauto will deliver oral arguments in marriage cases before the Supreme Court. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The high-profile LGBT advocate and attorney who successfully argued for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts 10 years ago has been chosen to deliver oral arguments in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court.

In a statement on Tuesday, attorneys for the plaintiff same-sex couple in the Michigan marriage case announced Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, would present arguments to the court on why state prohibitions on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Oral arguments in the marriage cases are set for April 28.

“I’m humbled to be standing up for the petitioners from Kentucky and Michigan who seek the freedom to marry, along with the Michigan team of Carole Stanyar, Dana Nessel, Ken Mogill, and Robert Sedler, and with support from the other legal teams,” Bonauto said. “The road that we’ve all travelled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right. Same-sex couples should not be excluded from the joy, the security, and the full citizenship signified by that institution. I believe the Court will give us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day when all LGBT Americans will be able to marry the person they love.”

In case of Goodridge v. Department of Health, Bonauto is credited with convincing the Massachusetts Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage in a 4-3 decision, making the state the first jurisdiction in the country to have marriage equality. Bonauto also assisted with the litigation against the Defense of Marriage Act and presented oral arguments before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals against Section 3 of that law.

Dana Nessel, a private attorney and co-counsel for the plaintiff couples in the Michigan marriage case, said she’s pleased with the designation of Bonauto as oralist for the arguments.

“April and Jayne’s family, and tens of thousands of families like theirs in Michigan, will be represented by a dynamic litigator who has a history of fighting and winning LGBT rights cases in states and districts across the country,” said Nessel. “We are very pleased that an attorney representing the DeBoer-Rowse family will be addressing the issue of marriage equality for what we hope will be the last time in our nation’s history.”

Set to join Bonauto in arguing before the Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiff same-sex couples is Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, a partner at the multinational lawfirm Ropes & Gray. While Bonauto will address the issue of licensing for same-sex couples, Hallward-Driemeier will address the court’s question about whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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