(San Francisco, CA, February 20, 2009)—Today California Lawyer named National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director Shannon Price Minter and San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese M. Stewart as California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year Awards. Stewart and Minter were recognized for their achievements in the fight for marriage equality in California. The recipients of the CLAY Awards, which honor 22 accomplishments in 13 areas of legal practice, are featured in the March 2009 issue of California Lawyer.
“I am deeply honored to be recognized with Terry Stewart,” said Minter. “Litigating the marriage case has been the most challenging and rewarding professional experience of my life. I was fortunate to be a part of a remarkable team that included the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and private attorneys who donated countless hours to the case. To work for what is right, to make a difference for so many, to have helped to change the law for the better in a way that truly serves people — I feel incredibly privileged to have played a role.”
“Shannon and I have been joined at the hip in this battle for five years now,” Stewart said. “I have been lucky to have been able to work so closely with such a champion for civil rights. This recognition also reflects the work of a group of amazing attorneys within the City Attorney’s Office, whom I am privileged to have as colleagues. I sometimes pinch myself to see if my getting to work on this epic constitutional battle was all a dream. To be recognized for it on top of that renders me speechless, and that is a rare thing.”
Minter has guided NCLR’s litigation and program work for over 10 years. He has been lead counsel in dozens of groundbreaking legal victories, including the California marriage case and Sharon Smith’s unprecedented victory in her wrongful death lawsuit. In 2005, he was one of 18 people to receive the Ford Foundation’s “Leadership for a Changing World” award. In 2004, he was awarded an Honorary Degree from the City University of New York School of Law for his advocacy on behalf of same-sex couples and their families. Minter has also received the Anderson Prize Foundation’s Creating Change Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Distinguished National Service Award from GAYLAW, the bar association for LGBTQ lawyers, Cornell Law School’s Exemplary Public Service Award, the Unity Award from Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the Advocacy Award from the San Francisco Bar Association, and the Justice Award from Equality California. He has authored numerous articles and books on LGBTQ legal issues, including Transgender Rights (University of Minnesota Press, 2006) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family Law (West Publishing, 2008). He has taught as an adjunct or associate professor at Boalt, Stanford, Golden Gate, Santa Clara, and the University of San Francisco Schools of Law. Minter received his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1993.
Therese Stewart has served as Chief Deputy City Attorney under San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera since 2002, overseeing the office’s litigation practice and representing San Francisco and its officials in key civil cases. Stewart currently heads a team of deputy city attorneys representing San Francisco among numerous plaintiffs challenging Proposition 8, the controversial initiative constitutional amendment that sought to eliminate marriage rights for same-sex couples. It is the identical role she played on the City’s behalf when San Francisco was among the plaintiffs that successfully struck down California’s discriminatory marriage laws in 2008; and when she defended Mayor Gavin Newsom’s issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Stewart was previously a litigation partner at the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin, where she handled complex business litigation. In 1999, she served as the first openly gay president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, and she has served in numerous leadership roles in the fight for LGBTQ equality since the 1980s. Stewart received her B.A. with Distinction from Cornell University in 1978 and her J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1981, where she was Order of the Coif and received Am Jur awards in Constitutional and Criminal Law.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.