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LBGTQ+ Leaders of Excellence

Mary and Dorene Bowe-Shulman were plaintiffs in the first multi-plaintiff comprehensive Federal lawsuit that challenged the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Section 3. Filed on March 3rd, 2009 by GLAD on behalf of eight married couples and three widowers, GLAD argued the DOMA Section 3 violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection as applied to federal income tax, Social Security, federal employees and retirees, and in the issuance of passports. Although this was the first lawsuit to challenge DOMA, several others soon followed. On June 26th, 2013 the “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that section three of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections.”

1. What is your title/role/organization and/or involvement in the community?

We were plaintiffs in a Federal lawsuit seeking recognition of same-sex marriages.  We have been advocating for the equal treatment of same sex couples since 1997.

  1. What does Pride Month Mean to you?

The meaning of Pride to us has changed over time. Initially, it was a time to celebrate our identity and to gather with others like us as there were so few spaces where we could feel safe about our identity.  Recently, its meaning to us is more outward-looking, as a means of educating others and celebrating our own diversity as a community. 

  1. What can the community do more of to recognize Pride during the year?

Pride is a great time of year but it’s only one month. Ideally, the community would continue to recognize that many LGBTQ+ people struggle ALL year to be seen, to have equal rights, to have jobs and housing security.

  1. What advice would you give to future generations of leaders in the community, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+?

Stay vigilant! For every couple of steps any social justice movement takes forward, there will be pushback. We can see this now even in our own state. We ask the future leaders, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+, to not take for granted the progress that has been made and to stay visible in their work.  Visibility is key for our community as it fosters understanding and dispels harmful stereotypes.