February 22, 2017

Longtime LGBT activists honored by ABA at Midyear

Three longstanding LGBT legal activists were honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 4 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston.

Stonewall Award recipients (left to right): Diana Flynn, Tonya Parker and Kevin Cathcart


Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. 

The 2017 award recipients (click each name for video):  

Kevin Cathcart was the executive director of Lambda Legal in New York, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBT legal organization from 1992 until his retirement in 2016. He was the longest-serving head of a major national LGBT nonprofit organization. He helped change the legal landscape for LGBT people with the organization’s work on three historic Supreme Court cases: Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hines. Under his leadership, Lambda Legal now has a docket of more than 100 cases, more than 100 staff members and offices in five U.S. cities.

Diane K. Flynn, chief of the Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, was instrumental in her office’s legal counsel project that laid the groundwork for the division’s application of current sex discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based on gender nonconformity and gender identity. Under her direction, the Appellate Section has filed more than 2,000 briefs in federal courts and has maintained a success rate of more than 80 percent. She also managed the division’s efforts in connection with the marriage equality cases, including Obergefell v. Hines, decided by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Tonya Parker is judge of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County, Texas. She serves as the presiding judge of the Dallas County Civil District Courts and is the immediate past president of the Texas Association of District Judges. She received national and international media attention when, after her election in 2010, she declined to officiate weddings until every couple in Texas, including gay and lesbian couples, could get married. In 2013 and 2015, she received the Dallas Bar Association’s highest ratings of any civil district judge. In 2015, Parker was named Trial Judge of the Year by the Dallas chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.