February 04, 2021

Hawaii Supreme Court Judge Sabrina McKenna to receive Stonewall Award

CHICAGO, Feb. 4, 2021 — The American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will honor Judge Sabrina McKenna with its 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. 

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.

McKenna 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.

You can find a photo of McKenna here.

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.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at https://www.americanbar.org/news/ and on Twitter @ABANews.