Marriage Equality Series Explores Practical Implications of a Post-DOMA Legal Landscape


Marriage Equality Series

Miami Law’s Marriage Equality Series, which concluded on April 9th, was a unique collaborative effort between OUTLaw, the University’s LGBT student advocacy group, and the Miami Law administration. The series incorporated a novel interdisciplinary approach, where the lectures were offered both as a formal course with academic credit for students and as a CLE course for practicing attorneys.

Each of the eight lectures focused on the myriad practical implications flowing out of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in U.S. v. Windsor. The series began by discussing the history of marriage generally, as well as the history of the marriage equality movement within the LGBT community, followed by discussion on the substantive law of the Windsor decision itself. From there, each of the subsequent lectures touched upon the nuanced issues that have arisen in the months since the decision was handed down — such as conflict of laws, family law, estate planning, federal regulatory benefits, and tax and immigration.

The final lecture rounded off the course by inviting some of the marriage equality movement’s preeminent activists to discuss the future of the legal landscape surrounding a possible future grant of marriage equality across the states. Among the panelists were Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal; Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Ted Uno, Partner at Boise Schiller and participant in the Prop 8 litigation, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Their conversations embodied the ideals and spirit of the movement and were extremely well received by the students, professors, and practitioners in attendance.

“The last lecture was the perfect demonstration that the law is changing for the better,” said Sean Maye, outgoing co-President of OUTLaw. “Both the older and younger generations of the LGBT movement can now come together under a common, shared experience.”

Elizabeth Schwartz, Miami Law alumna and co-organizer of the course, added, “I could never have dreamed that not only would we have come so far on this issue generally but that marriage equality would be within reach here in Florida. I look forward to seeing where this conversation goes from here and know that Miami Law will continue to be at the forefront of addressing the legal issues which impact the LGBT community.” Schwartz is currently spearheading the litigation in Florida, which is centered around 6 plaintiff couples challenging Florida’s ban on gay marriage.

“The series was organized around a fast-evolving area of the law and was a great example of the innovative and creative thinking that we at Miami Law are engaged in,” said Associate Dean Ileana Porras, who also helped organize the course. “What better way to bring theory and practice to life?”