Distinguished Service Award to Nancy D. Polikoff
Presented by GLAA President Mitch WoodGLAA 38th Anniversary Reception
Washington Plaza Hotel
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Nancy D. Polikoff is a gay rights activist and law professor who has worked on lesbian and gay family issues for more than 30 years. She is a member of NCLR’s National Family Law Advisory Council. Before joining the faculty at American University Washington College of Law, she co-founded a feminist law collective and directed family law programs at the Women’s Legal Defense Fund. Her articles have appeared in numerous law reviews and collections. She helped develop the legal theories in support of second-parent adoption and visitation rights for legally unrecognized parents. She was successful counsel in the 1995 case that established joint adoption for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, and Boswell v. Boswell, the 1998 Maryland case overturning restrictions on a gay noncustodial father's visitation rights.
Nancy is a contributing blogger for The Bilerico Project and Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage. She is the author of Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law, published by Beacon Press in 2008. The book is the first in Beacon’s Queer Ideas series.
Last summer, when the D.C. Office of the Attorney General began criticizing the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act—which we call the Parentage Bill—one of the allies we huddled with was Nancy. Over the months that followed, in a long series of letters and meetings and strategy sessions, she mounted a masterful, deeply informed defense of the right of the children of domestic partners to a clear legal relationship to both of their parents.
Working with Councilmember Phil Mendelson, his legislative counsel Brian Moore, and a coalition of legal and political advocates including Liz Seaton of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Michele Zavos, Bob Summersgill and Rick Rosendall, Nancy responded to OAG by pointing out that several states have adopted similar protections without falling afoul of the federal government as OAG warned. At the same time, she drafted language to address reasonable concerns.
Last month, Nancy and the team were completely vindicated when the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement gave a green light to the revised bill. The bill’s second reading is set for May 5, and enjoys unanimous Council support. Shannon Minter of NCLR, who also consulted with us and who was the lead attorney arguing before the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, praised Professor Polikoff “for your heroic and relentless work on this bill.” We couldn’t say it better.
Lesbian and gay families are fortunate to have this tireless advocate in their corner. It is my privilege to present GLAA’s Distinguished Service Award to Nancy D. Polikoff.