June 2024 President's Letter

Written by National Association of Women Judges|June 04, 2024|Monthly Update Archive

karen-sage.pngHappy Pride Month!  Pride Month is a reaffirmation of human rights. It underscores the principle that everyone deserves to live with dignity, respect, and freedom, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  By celebrating Pride, NAWJ acknowledges the existence and contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals. When we approve visibility, it helps combat stereotypes and prejudices, fostering a more inclusive and accepting environment. All LGBTQ+ individuals should be able to live authentically without fear of discrimination or violence.
In all my years on the bench, one day stands out more than any other.  That date is June 26, 2015 – the day the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges recognizing that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marry as one of the fundamental liberties and, therefore, same sex couples should be afforded that right.   June 26 was not a random day for this opinion to be released.  It was on June 26, 2003 that a divided Court said in Lawrence v. Texas that a Texas law making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in intimate sexual conduct was unconstitutional.  And on June 26, 2013, a divided Court in United States v. Windsor said that the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was unconstitutional as a “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

I have never been so proud of my colleagues in the Travis County Texas community as I was that Friday in June of 2015. Our County Clerk kept the clerk’s office open after 5 pm until every couple that wanted a marriage license on the day had one.  On that day they issued over 300 marriage licenses to different and same sex couples.  On a normal day they would issue twelve. Our Travis County Judges agreed that we would keep the courthouse open and judges available to marry any couple that wanted to be married.  A local bakery delivered a beautiful white wedding cake that revealed rainbow layers when sliced.  Local florists delivered flowers to the courthouse for the couple to have bouquets.  I married seven same sex couples that day.  The couples were amazing.  Some had gone to other States to get married but wanted to be married in their home state.  One couple had been together 30 years.  They had never gotten married because they were both Texans and didn’t want to get married anywhere else.  It was a beautiful day filled with so much love and joy.

In honor of Pride Month, NAWJ is co-hosting a webinar with the American Bar Association Judicial Division entitled:  LGBTQ+ Persons in Custody: What Judges & Lawyers Need to Know.  It will be moderated by Piper Kerman who, many of you may recall spoke at NAWJ’s 2019 Conference in Los Angeles.  The webinar will take place on June 13 at noon CDT.  Registration details are in this newsletter and on the NAWJ website. 

In other news, I have created a new Committee on Judicial Safety and Security.  The co-chairs for the committee are Judge Rose Aquilina and Tamarin Lindenberg.  Please email me if you are interested in serving on this committee.
Have a safe and wonderful summer!

Hon. Karen R. Sage
President, National Association of Women Judges 

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