Counsel in Landmark Hawaii Marriage Case Is Named Judge
(NEW YORK, August 7, 2000) — Hawaii’s most prominent civil rights attorney Dan Foley, co-counsel in the landmark case, Baehr v. Anderson, which sparked the ongoing national dialogue about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, has been named a judge to the state’s Intermediate Court of Appeals, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said Monday.
Lambda Senior Staff Attorney Evan Wolfson, who was co-counsel with Foley on Baehr v. Anderson, said, “The appointment of Dan Foley to serve as a judge proves that championing equality for all is not a barrier to further career opportunities. Dan’s integrity, skill, and commitment to the constitution will continue to serve the people of Hawaii well.”
Governor Ben Cayetano, who made the nomination, cited Foley’s intelligence and integrity, adding that he is one of Hawaii’s top constitutional lawyers. “His stand on legal issues, regardless of whether politically popular or not, speaks volumes of the courage and commitment he will bring to the Intermediate Court of Appeals,” Cayetano said. The Senate confirmed Foley’s appointment last Friday, following testimony from many colleagues and fellow lawyers praising him, as well as protestors.
For the past 11 years, Foley has been partner with Honolulu attorney Earle Partington in their two-person law firm, Partington & Foley.
Foley, 53 filed a challenge to the state’s marriage discrimination in 1991 when three same-sex couples sought him out after they were denied civil marriage licenses. In 1993 the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the denial was sex discrimination prohibited under the state constitution and ordered a trial to determine whether the state had a valid justification. In 1996, along with co-counsel Evan Wolfson, Foley persuaded the trial court to rule for the first time in United States history that there was no good reason for excluding lesbian and gay men from civil marriage. In 1998, right-wing attacks forced a change in the state constitution to block the Supreme Court from enforcing the constitution to end discrimination in civil marriage.
Foley has had a distinguished career in public interest work. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. In 1984 he moved to Honolulu and became the legal director of Hawaii’s American Civil Liberties Union until 1987. As one of the state’s top civil rights lawyers, Foley won many civil rights battles, from obtaining prison reform to cleaning up the environment to upholding the First Amendment. In lesbian and gay civil rights, Foley helped pass an ordinance in Honolulu to ban discrimination on sexual orientation. He also sued to prevent a government official from denying the Miss Gay Molokai Pageant a permit because the official thought that the Pageant might spread AIDS. Additionally, Foley challenged nursing homes to admit those with AIDS as patients. Foley’s wife is a respected film-maker; together they have two children.
Lambda is the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization for lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS. Headquartered in New York, Lambda has offices in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 ext. 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)
Evan Wolfson 212-809-8585 ext. 205