MacArthur Genius Grant Winner Who Successfully Argued for Same-Sex Marriage Before the Supreme Court Will Deliver Rutgers Annual State Constitutional Law Lecture

Mary Bonauto, who successfully argued for marriage equality before the United States Supreme Court in the historic case of Obergefell v. Hodges, will serve as the speaker during the 27th Annual State Constitutional Law Lecture at Rutgers Law School on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Mary Bonauto

Mary Bonauto

The Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Lecturer at Harvard Law School, Bonauto is the long-serving Civil Rights Project Director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Her noon lecture at Rutgers Law School’s Camden location is titled, “Equality and the Impossible: State Constitutions and Marriage.”

Sponsored by the Rutgers University Law Review and the Rutgers–Camden Center for State Constitutional Studies, the talk will take place in the Multi-Purpose Room, located on the main level of the Campus Center on the Rutgers University–Camden campus.

Bonauto is a prominent gay rights advocate and, according to Rutgers Law Distinguished Professor Robert Williams, who also serves as associate director of the Center for State Constitutional Studies, her work on the landmark ruling has had an impact on current and future generations, and allows for further examination of what barriers remain on the issue of marriage equality on the state constitution level.“Her litigation strategy concerning marriage equality began with individual state constitutional cases in the late 1990s, slowly building toward the recent federal constitutional victory for the whole country,” says Williams.

Bonauto has litigated in the state and federal courts of New England on discrimination issues, parental rights, free speech and religious liberty, and relationship recognition. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship.  A graduate of Hamilton College and Northeastern University School of Law, Bonauto serves on an advisory board for the American Constitution Society and has also served as co-chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities.

Formed in 1997, the Center for Constitutional Studies cosponsors the annual state constitutional lecture, which will be published as the foreword to the Rutgers University Law Review’s annual issue.

Williams says that knowledge of state constitutions isn’t just for the legal community. “There’s more in state constitutions that affects daily life as compared to the U.S. Constitution, like public schools, state taxations, and state budget, which fuels state government and that impacts everybody every day.”

The event is free and open to the public, but online registration is required.

For directions to campus, including tips on parking, visit For more information about the lecture, contact the Center at (856) 225-6625.

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