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November-December 2007

"Mary Would Do It!"

After the disastrous November oil spill in the San Francisco Bay that threatened marine life throughout the bay and along a huge swathe of the California coast, several of Mary's friends volunteered at a major rescue center, the International Bird Rescue and Research Center in the Fairfield-Suisun delta, for training in the intake and care of oiled birds. Here's a photo of Maureen and Renee at work.

Among the artists that inspired Mary's own artwork was the reserved and prolific Joseph Cornell, who constructed 3D collages from found materials in small puppet-show-style boxes. If you missed the recent West Coast retrospective of his work at the SF Museum of Modern Art, you might like this Flash collage that ruminates on his life and work.

April 2007

"Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975", a directory of many of the pioneers in the second wave of feminism, was published by the University of Illinois Press in the spring. Edited by Barbara Love (co-author of Sappho Was a Right On Woman), it contains over 2,000 entries--material is still being collected with the goal of making this important history available online--and is described by Kate Millet as "the basic text on American feminists of the late twentieth century." Here's an excerpt from Mary's entry:

    Dunlap argued an early women's rights case before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of a pregnant schoolteacher who had been forced to take maternity leave. She also argued the Gay Olympics case before the Court in 1987, and litigated numerous important cases in the early women's movement. After 20 years of practicing law and teaching, Dunlap retired to paint watercolors of landscapes and animals. She also wrote an unpublished memoir, "Fighting Words, Mending Words."

Also in the spring, the 2007 Mary C. Dunlap Fellowship was awarded to John Yandell to support his summer work in Argentina on LGBT issues with the human rights group CEJIL, the Center for Justice and International Law.

November 2006

From October to December, 2006, the Oakland Museum mounted an exhibition for the Day of the Dead entitled "Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts".

The centerpiece of the exhibition was a double spiral labyrinth outlined by the shoes of the dead, each brimming with orange confetti and paper marigolds. Mary's size-11 burgundy penny loafers were there. At a private closing ceremony, the survivors were blessed by a shaman and then walked the labyrinth, picking up the shoes of their loved ones, and inscribed their names in the Book of the Dead. A lovely healing and communal experience.

April 2006

The Mary C. Dunlap Fellowship funded two students at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law to do summer work on behalf of LGBTQ people who are traditionally underrepresented, or especially marginalized. The fellowships went to:

    Madeline Neighly
    Madeline worked with the
    TGI Justice Project, an organization supported by the fellowship last year, to advocate for transgender, gender variant/genderqueer and intersex (TGI) persons who are incarcerated, and in particular for TGI youth.

    Justin Reinheimer
    Justin worked at the National Center for Lesbian Rights on several important same-sex marriage cases, including a case seeking to invalidate the marriage of two women in front of the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal.

February 23, 2006

The second Mary C. Dunlap Lecture on Sex, Gender & Social Justice returned to the University of California, Berkeley on February 23, 2006. It was a free public event for students, legal professionals and the wider activist community and featured Prof. David Cruz of USC, currently president of the International Gay and Lesbian Law Association, with Eveline Shen, Director of Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice.

The Dunlap Lecture has been generously hosted by the law school's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice (formerly the Center for Social Justice) and is financed by the donations of family, friends, allies, colleagues and others who want to see Mary's legacy of compassionate and visionary civil rights scholarship and activism continue.

If you would like to help support the lecture, you can follow these directions for making either an online or a mailed-in donation.

Thank you!

April 2005

The Mary C. Dunlap Fellowship, which is administered by the Queer Caucus at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, funds a law student's summer work on behalf of LGBTQ people who are traditionally underrepresented, or especially marginalized, because of their race, gender expression, disability, etc. The first two years' recipients of this fellowship were:

February 24, 2005

The first Mary C. Dunlap Lecture on Sex, Gender & Social Justice took place in Berkeley on February 24, 2005.

You can read an article about the lecture from a local San Francisco LGBTQ newpaper, and see photos of the participants.

With the financial support of friends and allies who want to see Mary's intellectual and activist legacy continue, this lecture will hopefully become an annual event. If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the future of the Dunlap Lecture, you may either:

  • Make a secure donation online at https://www.law.berkeley.edu/alumni/gift/ by (1) entering the amount next to "Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice" and (2) typing in the "Special Instructions" box: Mary Dunlap Lecture; or
  • Send a check payable to "Henderson Center for Social Justice - Dunlap Lecture" by mailing it to:

    Henderson Center for Social Justice
    Boalt Hall, 897 Simon Hall
    Berkeley, CA 94720.

January 17, 2005

From Maureen...

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 editor Cynthia 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.

Mary would do it! 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.
at Women and the Law Conference 1987

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 are unconstitutional.

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 irreversibly."

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

February 16 Peace Rally, San Francisco

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.)

With love,

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