Mary Bonauto ’87
Mary Bonauto has been called the Thurgood Marshall of the gay rights movement. As civil rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston, Mary's tireless advocacy and powerful oral arguments before the US Supreme Court, led — in large measure — to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States of America in June of 2015 when she served as one of the lead attorneys in Obergefell v. Hodges.
At GLAD, Mary spent nearly two decades developing a careful strategy to advance marriage equality. With co-counsel, she waged the legal effort in Vermont to secure marriage, which led to the nation’s first civil unions law in 2000, won the 2003 case that made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, co-counseled the legal team that convinced the Connecticut Supreme Court that civil unions did not meet the constitutional promise of equality, defended marriage at the ballot in Maine in 2009 and 2012, and in 2012 convinced a federal appeals court that the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal marital benefits to married gay couples, was unconstitutional.
“I find my work fulfilling,” says Mary, was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Award in 2014. “The mission of ‘equal justice under law’ is very compelling. It speaks to all of us, no matter what our circumstances are in life. I believe in the promise of liberty and justice for all.”
Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, Boston, Massachusetts
Mary launched her legal career by exploring the inner workings of the office of the commonwealth’s chief legal advisor and enforcer
Greater Boston Legal Services, Divorce Unit, Boston, Massachusetts
On her second co-op, Mary assisted in providing free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in and around Boston.
- Immigration Law
- Poverty Law
- Tax Law
- Women and the Law
Julian & Olsen, Madison, Wisconsin
Mary took the opportunity to explore Madison while working for a storied civil rights firm.
Sugarman & Sugarman, Boston, Massachusetts
On her final co-op, Mary took a deep dive into personal injury practice.