January 17, 2005
Can it already be two whole years since Mary was here with us? What would
she be doing on Inauguration Day?!
(Many thanks to photojournalist Steve Savage and BAR
Laird for this 1987 picture of Mary's reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's
5:4 ruling against her clients in the Gay Olympics case.)
Some of the 2004-2005 tributes and events that have honored Mary and
are carrying on her legacy include:
... Moving essays about Mary that appeared in the
2004 Berkeley Women's Law Journal by law professors
around the country, including Wendy Williams, Herma Hill Kay, David Cruz
and Pat Cain. The issue also includes samples of Mary poetry and art.
... The new Mary C. Dunlap Fellowship at
Boalt Hall, which funds a law student's summer work in support of
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer people who are traditionally
underrepresented, or additionally marginalized because of their race,
gender expression or identity, disability, etc.
... coming soon on February 24,
2005, the first Mary C. Dunlap Lecture on Sex, Gender & Social Justice
at Boalt Hall's Center for Social Justice. This is a free public event.
... and a section in memory of Mary on
the website of photographer Lisa Kanemoto, who published
the 1984 book "We Are" (Mary's essay for the book is
also reprinted here).
January 17, 2004
From Maureen ...
Loved ones are gathering this weekend to remember Mary and witness my own
gratitude for the tremendous support that's flowed to me over the past
year from friends, family (blood and chosen), community, and gifted
healers -- not to mention the women and men who have written about or
shared their experience of moving through huge and early grief.
I was inspired to make up some bumperstickers, and smaller stickers for
bike helmets, backpacks, calendars and what have you, that say "Mary would
do it!" That phrase stands for all the times this year I and others have
stepped up, stopped to help, stretched ourselves, done something whimsical
or brave because Mary would've done it. Taken a case or a stand.
Rescued an animal. Spoken truth to power. Colored outside -- way
outside! -- the lines.
If you'd also like some stickers, feel free to drop me a line. It'll be good to
hear from you
and, if you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope (bumperstickers are
3"x11, stickers are 3"x3), I'll be glad to share them.
This weekend, both in memory of Mary and to honor the anti-racism,
anti-poverty and anti-war legacy of Dr. King, we'll be singing some of the
songs of the acapella gospel group Sweet Honey in the
Rock, which has
been an inspiration to movements against oppression of all kinds for over
30 years. One song, "They Are Falling All Around Me", says so
much about the pain and hopefulness surrounding this one-year anniversary
since Mary died:
Death it comes and rests so heavy ...
Your face I'll never see
But you're not really going to leave me ...
It is your path I walk.
It is your song that I sing.
It is your load I take on.
It is your air that I breathe.
It's the record that you set that makes me go on.
It's your strength that helps me stand.
I will try to sing my song right ...
Be sure to let me hear
June 27, 2003
Oh, Mary is surely beaming now!!
Thanks to all of you who've written to tell me you were thinking of Mary
yesterday when you heard the news: that the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas finally—and outright!—overruled
itself and held that Bowers v. Hardwick, which reasoned that gay
sex could be made a crime because there's no "right to sodomy" in the
Constitution and homosexuality was condemned for millenia by traditional
Judeo-Christian morality, was wrong.
On June 30, 1986, Mary was among the throngs of people who poured into the
streets in San Francisco, as in cities all across the country, in response
to the Hardwick decision. This is how one of the protestors, who
later became her legal investigator and friend, described hearing her
speak that day:
The first time I saw Mary was in 1986 after the Bowers
v. Hardwick decision. She was on a makeshift stage at the corner of
Market and Castro ripping up a copy of the decision to show what she
thought of one of many of the Supreme Court's BAD 5-4 decisions. I knew I
had to get to know Mary.
In 1987 in Washington D.C., Mary condemned Hardwick at the
National Conference on Women and the Law (see photo left), shortly
before arguing the "Gay Olympics" case as an out-lesbian in the Supreme
Court—in front of the same conservative justices who joined to
deride rights for gay people in Hardwick. One of them, Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor, changed her vote yesterday and ruled that sodomy laws
In a 1994 law review article (Gay Men and Lesbians Down By Law in
the 1990's USA: The Continuing Toll of Bowers v. Hardwick 24 Golden
Gate U. L. Rev 1 (1994)) which eloquently laid out the legal gay-bashing
that followed in the wake of the Hardwick decision—in areas
of law ranging from employment and housing discrimination, to the ban on
gays in the military and issues of child custody and visitation—Mary
also argued strongly that LGBT legal advocates go back in and challenge
Hardwick head-on, rather than back off and try to work around it:
"In the wake of the Hardwick decision, many commented that the
litigation of Hardwick had been a mistake, and the case should
never have been taken to the, or at least this, Supreme Court..."
"...to say that Hardwick should not have been litigated is more
than a bit like saying that someone who got gaybashed in a hostile
neighborhood should not have gone there, or should have been differently
dressed, and so on and so on. As long as the courts are unsafe to us,
just as the streets, we will not progress by hiding indoors."
"We must focus on directly and actively working to overturn
Hardwick by planned legal actions (including but by no means
limited to direct "sodomy" law challenges in courts and legislatures) as
well as by indirect challenges seeking to limit Hardwick's harmful
seepage into non-criminal law areas, and, perhaps most affirmatively and
hopefully, by commencing and sustaining a national drive to adopt
"privacy" as an explicit guarantee of the U.S. Constitution."
"If, instead of these pro-active and aggressive steps, we get caught
up in adapting to Hardwick and in shifting and reconstructing and
settling for trying to find ways around it, then surely for as long as
Hardwick remains "citeable law," we will continue to see our
frustration, rage and grief rise... As long as Hardwick remains,
with its open permission to government and citizens alike to mistreat gay,
lesbian and other sexual minority people, not only our privacy but our
peace, safety, equality of opportunity and of human compassion and
co-operation are jeopardized. If we are to make progress within law in
this phase and quarter of the human rights movement, the monument of
Bowers v. Hardwick must fall promptly, absolutely and
Yesterday's Lawrence decision, which also refers in
respectful language to the dignity of gay people and their relationships,
ruled explicitly that "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and
it is not correct today. It .. should be and now is overruled".
Oh, but Mary should be seeing this!!
Wishing a Happy Pride weekend to you all,
February 18, 2003
Gonna show up and march for peace
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
Gonna take Mary's love with me
Ain't gonna study war no more
Mary was surely at Sunday's peace rally in spirit, after a
sometimes tearful but mostly exhilarating celebration of her life at
Herbst theater the day before!
There are no words enough to thank everyone who poured in help to make
such a fitting memorial for Mary, where
we could remember her; tell each other "Mary-stories"; see her art and
history; watch her funny, deep and profoundly hopeful 1987 Chicago speech
about the Gay Olympics case; listen to how we miss her and love her and
continue to live by her values; and hear the gifts of music brought to us
by Cheri Toney (with her amazing "Amazing Grace"!) and Margie Adam and
Ronnie Gilbert, whose personal angry joyful introduction launched us on a
round of peace songs at the
memorial's end. It meant everything to come together so bereft but also
filled up with a sense of community and possibility, when we need these so
badly right now.
For an added treat, you can hear Mary's Supreme Court
argument in the Gay Olympics case, now archived online thanks to
columist Deb Price and the staff at Northwestern who maintain the Oyez
database. (If the link doesn't automatically play when you click it,
choose instead to save the MP3 file, which you can then find on your
computer and click to play.)