"Same-Sex Marriage, Government, and the Law":
April 8, 2011
How does government go about defining and enforcing our civil rights? What happens when a state clashes with the federal government over, for example, the marriage rights of its citizens? What is it like to work as a lawyer in public service? At this undergraduate discussion lunch, students joined Maura Healey, chief of the civil rights division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, for a lunchtime conversation about these and other issues. Since 2007, Ms. Healey has overseen investigation and prosecution of civil rights cases in areas such as mortgage lending, housing, education, public accommodation, health care, and hate crimes. She is also lead counsel in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the state's challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, argues that DOMA discriminates against the state and its citizens by refusing federal recognition to those marriages. Prior to working in government, Ms. Healey was an attorney at a major national law firm, where her practice focused on commercial litigation, securities litigation and enforcement, and government investigations for companies in the technology, life sciences, and pharmaceutical areas, as well as professional sports teams. During this time, she was also involved in the representation of military personnel challenging "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." While on campus, Ms. Healey also spoke at a symposium at the Maurer School of Law on "Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of DOMA: Law, Politics, Families, and Federalism," at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 7. The lunch was co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the Hutton Honors College, PACE (Political and Civic Engagement), and the Wells Scholars Program.