Panels and Panelists

DOMA, Federalism, and LGBT Rights: Should Equality Be Left to the States?

Martha Minow (moderator), Dean and Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, has taught at the law school since 1981, where her courses have included civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop.  An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.


Barbara Cox, Clara Shortridge Foltz Professor of Law, California Western School of Law, San Diego is a national authority on sexual orientation and the law, and women and the law. She has written numerous articles on interstate recognition of marriage and civil unions of same-sex couples. As a commissioner on the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission in Wisconsin, Professor Cox helped draft one of the earliest domestic partnership ordinances in the country. She has published articles on obtaining recognition for alternative families in journals such as the National Journal of Sexual Orientation Law and the Southern California Review of Law and Women’s Studies. Prof. Cox is past chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Women and the Law and the AALS Section on Gay and Lesbian Issues, and former deputy director of the AALS. She chairs the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the national Freedom to Marry organization, and completed six years on ABA Accreditation Committee in June 2011.


Brian Boyle, Associate, WilmerHale, previously worked in the Civil Rights Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, where he was involved in the Commonwealth’s challenge to DOMA.  While at WilmerHale, Mr. Boyle has maintained an active pro bono practice in the area of LGBT rights, including his work on the DOMA appeal and an anti-bullying case in New Hampshire.  Mr. Boyle is a graduate of Harvard College and Cornell Law School.



Joseph Singer, Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, has taught at the law school since 1992. He teaches and writes about property law, conflict of laws, and federal Indian law, and has published 60 law review artciles. He was one of the executive editors of the 2005 edition of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, as well as of the forthcoming 2012 edition. He has written a casebook and a treatise on property law, as well as two theoretical books on property. His article on some of the conflict of laws issues involved in same-sex marriage appeared as the first article in the inaugural issue of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Joseph William Singer, Same Sex Marriage, Full Faith and Credit, and the Evasion of Obligation, 1 Stan. J. C.R. & C.L. 1 (2005).


Janson Wu, Staff Attorney, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) (Boston, MA), is a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and was named a 2011 “Best LGBT Lawyer Under 40″ by the National LGBT Bar Association. Before coming to GLAD, Janson worked as a coordinating attorney with Tri-City Community Action Program, a multi-service, anti-poverty organization, where he provided legal services to low-income individuals. Prior to that, Janson was an associate at the litigation law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in San Francisco. In California, he volunteered on an LGBT anti-violence hotline, for the Lawyer’s Committee of Civil Rights, and for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel. He is a member of the bars of Massachusetts and California, and serves on the ABA’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, as a Vice Chair of the Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Committee of the IRR Section of the ABA, and on the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.


The Geography of LGBT Family Life and Law

Erika Rickard (moderator), Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division of Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, is a 2010 graduate of Harvard Law. The Attorney General’s Office is currently representing Massachusetts in a case before the First Circuit, arguing that the Defense of Mariage Act is unconstitutional. Rickard previously clerked for Justice Cynthia Cohen at the Massachusetts Appeals Court. At Harvard, she was co-president of Lambda and a student advocate at the WilmerHale Legal Services Center’s LGBT family law clinic.



Joyce Kauffman, Founder, The Law Office of Joyce Kauffman (Cambridge, MA) is a 1992 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and a 1981 graduate of Lesley University, with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.  She is a trained Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer.  Her practice focuses exclusively on family law, with an emphasis on issues impacting the LGBT community.  On brief in Adoption of Tammy, the Massachusetts case that secured the right for same-sex couples to adopt, Attorney Kauffman also represented the first lesbian couple in Massachusetts to obtain a birth certificate without benefit of adoption upon the birth of their child, conceived through IVF using the eggs of one of the women but born to the other woman.  She has represented a number of families who have successfully obtained three-parent adoptions; since Goodridge, and the beginning of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Attorney Kauffman has represented a number of individuals in same-sex divorces as well as in the preparation of prenuptial agreements.


Richard Wilson, Partner, Grund & Leavitt (Chicago, IL), has practiced exclusively in the field of family and matrimonial law for over eighteen years, with special emphasis on negotiation, litigation and appellate practice in dissolution and related matters, including custody and visitation, complex valuation and division of marital and non-marital assets and interests, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and domestic violence. Mr Wilson’s practice has particular concentration in the area of same-sex domestic relations law, where he has long and uniquely distinguished himself, with particular emphasis on nontraditional family law and the rights and interests of persons in same-sex relationships, including marriage and its equivalents, dissolution, custody, visitation and access to children, parentage, and domestic partnerships, and recognition of such relationships from one jurisdiction to the other. Mr Wilson has frequently spoken and lectured on these issues both in the US and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he teaches in the LLM program on the law of nontraditional families.


Mitchell Katine, Founding Partner, Katine & Nechman LLP (Houston, TX), has been practicing law in Houston for over 25 years. He is a partner with the law firm of Katine & Nechman.   The firm’s focus is on all aspects of the LGBT issues including LGBT immigration, family law, real estate and employment matters. Mitchell concentrates his practice is the areas of disability law, real estate, probate, and HIV and LGBT family law issues such as adoption and relationship dissolution disputes. Mitchell was local attorney for John Lawrence and Tyron Garner in the United States Supreme Court decision known as Lawrence v Texas that over turned all sodomy laws through the United States. He is a frequent lecturer and author on topics dealing with HIV and LGBT civil rights. Mitchell and his partner, Walter, are the proud parents of Sebrina & Sebastian, both age 9. Sebrina has joined Mitchell today in coming to this conference.


Defending LGBT Rights in Socially Conservative States

Sarah Downer (moderator), Redstone Fellow, Family and Children’s Law Practice Unit, WilmerHale Legal Services Center (Jamaica Plain, MA), joined the Center’s Family Unit in 2010 as a Redstone Fellow. Ms. Downer received her juris doctor from Harvard Law School in 2009, where she earned three semesters of clinical credit working in the Family Law Unit at the Center.Upon graduation, Ms. Downer was awarded the Redstone Fellowship to provide legal services to low-income clients in the area of domestic relations. She also currently serves as a Resident Tutor at Harvard College in the areas of BGLT Support, Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment, and Pre-Law Advising. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Downer worked in publishing and as part of a landscaping crew that restored parkland in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 with a BA in English Literature.


Cliff Johnson, Partner, Pigott & Johnson and Mississippi Coordinating Counsel for Lambda Legal (Jackson, MS), is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and Mississippi College. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi from 1996 – 2001 and was the Health Care Fraud Coordinator for that office. At Pigott & Johnson, he handles a variety of complex civil fraud litigation and white-collar criminal cases. The majority of Johnson’s practice focuses on the representation of whistleblowers in qui tam actions filed throughout the country. Johnson currently serves on the national Board of Directors of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Board of the Alliance of Baptists. As Mississippi cooperating counsel for Lambda Legal and in that capacity has handled several civil rights cases for LGBT individuals throughout Mississippi.


Aaron Tidman, Litigation Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Washington, DC), focuses on securities litigation, regulatory enforcement matters, white collar defense, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Mr. Tidman also devotes significant time to pro bono matters, including representation of three Guantanamo Bay detainees and several projects for Lambda Legal. Prior to joining Debevoise & Plimpton, Mr. Tidman worked as a Summer Honors Law Clerk in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a Law Clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, and a Summer Law Intern in the Investment Protection Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Tidman is a member of the Bars of New York State and the District of Columbia.  Mr. Tidman is admitted to appear before the US District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia.


Judith Sperling-Newton, Attorney, The Law Center for Children & Families (Madison, WI), is committed to social justice and is an ardent children’s rights advocate. She is an experienced guardian ad litem for abused or neglected children. Ms. Sperling-Newton practiced for three decades in the areas of adoption, assisted reproduction, surrogacy, child protection, and parentage for same-sex partners. She has worked with clients worldwide. Ms. Sperling-Newton is the author of Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption and the juvenile chapter of the Guardian ad Litem Handbook, both published by the State Bar of Wisconsin. She is a frequent speaker on best practices and ethics in assisted reproduction law, particularly surrogacy, and she is a regular presenter at the Lavender Law Family Law Institute (FLI). Ms. Sperling-Newton is also the Director of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA).


Denise Brogan-Kator, Executive Director, Equality Michigan, brings a mix of extensive business experience and more than fifteen years of activism to her position. A Navy veteran, Ms. Brogan-Kator prepared for her business career by earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master of Business Administration. From there, her career grew through a series of promotions until she became the Vice President of Finance with a medical products company. Ms. Brogan-Kator’s career was almost derailed when she was summarily fired, despite consistent exemplary performance reviews, after her employer learned of her gender identity after hiring a private investigator to tail her. Brogan-Kator was then fired from two subsequent positions when those employers discovered her transgender status. Each time, she was told that under current law she had no legal recourse. In addition, Ms. Brogan-Kator almost lost parental rights to her three daughters when the court learned about her gender identity during divorce proceedings. Ms. Brogan-Katormoved to Michigan to attend the University of Michigan Law School in 2004.