February 04, 2021

ABA names recipients of 2021 Stonewall Award honoring LGBT advancements in legal profession

CHICAGO, Feb. 4, 2021 — Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its ninth annual Stonewall Award during a virtual ceremony on Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. CST at the ABA Midyear Meeting.

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 2021 award recipients:  

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) is the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (in 1999) and to the Senate (in 2013). She began her career as a lawyer in private practice from 1989-92, then became the first openly lesbian member of the Wisconsin Assembly and one of a very few openly gay politicians in the country at the time. In 1994, Baldwin proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin and in 1995 proposed domestic partnerships in Wisconsin. In 2018, she was one of 20 senators who signed a letter to now former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to reinstate a policy that granted visas to same-sex partners of LGBTQ diplomats who had unions that were not recognized by their home countries. Baldwin has a B.A. from Smith College and J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Judge Martin Jenkins, an associate justice of the California Supreme Court, is the first openly LGBTQ justice and the third African American man to serve on the court. He has a long record of public service, including as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County from 1981-83 and as a prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division from 1983-85. Jenkins then served as in-house counsel for Pacific Bell for four years before being appointed to the Alameda County Municipal Court in 1989. In 1992, he was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court, where he served until 1997. President Bill Clinton nominated Jenkins in 1997 to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, where he served until 2008, when then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated him to fill the vacancy on the First District Court of Appeal. Immediately prior to joining the California Supreme Court, Jenkins served as judicial appointments secretary to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Jenkins has a B.A. from Santa Clara University and J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Judge Sabrina McKenna is the first openly LGBTQ judge to sit on the Hawaii Supreme Court, where she has served since 2011. After attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa on a basketball scholarship as an early beneficiary of Title IX, she received a J.D. from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law. McKenna started her career in private practice, then served as general counsel to Otaka, Inc. She became an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Law School before being appointed a District Court judge in 1993. McKenna was elevated to the Circuit Courts in 1995. She co-chaired the Hawaii Supreme Court’s Committee on Equality and Access to the Courts and the Committee on Court Interpreters and Language Access, looking to provide opportunities for groups frequently underrepresented in the justice system. She was involved in the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression as protected categories in the judiciary’s anti-bias and harassment policies and in the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression as additional categories for which judicial bias or prejudice is prohibited under Hawaii’s version of Rule 2.3 of the Revised Code of Judicial Conduct. McKenna is currently working to make the Hawaii court rules and jury instructions non-binary and now makes her opinions non-binary.

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.

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