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ProfNet Experts Available On Same-Sex Marriage, Clean Energy Manufacturing

With the Supreme Court hearing two cases this week involving same-sex marriage (Prop 8, DOMA), here are experts from our network that are available to discuss the cases:

Deborah WidissAssociate Professor of Law Indiana University Maurer School of Law"Both of these cases are extremely important because they will clarify whether same-sex couples have the right to marry and whether lawful, same-sex marriages are valid for purposes of federal law."Widiss is a preeminent scholar on the same-sex marriage debate, having studied and written several papers and amicus briefs on the subject.Bio: http://law.indiana.eduContact: Brianne O'Donnell, Beth CateAssociate Professor Indiana University School of Public and Environmental AffairsAccording to Cate, an attorney, the cases give the court an opportunity to make major statements about individual rights to equal protection under the law, and about states' rights, in the context of same-sex marriage: "This would be particularly interesting in a term in which the justices are likely to say a good deal about individual rights to equal protection under law, and states' rights, in the context of race. But complicated issues related to whether the parties have 'standing' may prevent the court from reaching the rights issues. If it does reach them, it is difficult to see how DOMA's rule limiting marriage for federal law purposes to one man and one woman will survive. Neither case requires the court to go all out and declare that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage, and it seems unlikely the court would go that far now if it doesn't have to."Bio: Sara Beth Joren, Joe SolmoneseManaging Director and Founding Partner, Gavin/SolmonesePast President, Human Rights Campaign"These two cases present the Supreme Court with the ultimate opportunity to align the law with the increasing majority of Americans' opinions -- including that of our president -- who support same-sex marriage in this country. A decades-long, complex road has brought the movement to this point.  This is the ultimate hurdle -- and opportunity -- that will forever change the landscape for gay rights. If DOMA, in particular, is not overturned, it will create chaos. States will continue to legalize same-sex marriage, but state and federal laws will exist in conflict with each other.  As states continue to legalize same-sex marriage, the effect will be to ghettoize the late-acting states, creating economic drain, business drain, talent drain and further exacerbating the economic impairment of what are already economically upside-down states."Solmonese is former president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. Under his seven-year leadership, HRC was instrumental in passing landmark legislation, such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as well as the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The organization also played a key role in winning full marriage equality in eight states, plus the District of Columbia. Solmonese is currently a managing director and founding partner of Gavin/Solmonese and leads the firm's corporate strategy, public affairs and policy practice, where he advises corporations on organizational effectiveness strategies and policy development and implementation across a diverse spectrum of topics.Website: http://www.gavinsolmonese.comMedia Contact: Kendall Roy, David B. CruzLaw Professor University of Southern California"In order to win, Charles Cooper, the lawyer representing, has to convince the Supreme Court that there is a legitimate justification for Prop 8 that doesn't depend on hostility toward gay people."An expert in constitutional law, Cruz has followed the same-sex marriage issue for more than a decade. He is available to discuss same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act, sexual orientation and the law, Equal Protection Clause and civil rights.ProfNet Profile: Website: http://law.usc.eduMedia Contact: Gilien Silsby,

David T. Pisarra, Esq.PresidentPisarra and Grist"What many people fail to recognize is that in the eyes of the law, marriage is a business contract -- nothing more and nothing less. Love, procreation and religion are not prerequisites to getting married and don't influence the legalities of the contract. So, with this thinking, and knowing that gay Americans are not disallowed from entering into other contractual agreements, the current status surrounding same-sex marriage is nothing but an effort to legislate morality."Based in Los Angeles, Pisarra is a family law attorney with same-sex/civil union experience. He is president of Pisarra and Grist; founder of Men's Family Law, dedicated to providing support and representation to men navigating the tumultuous waters of divorce; and head of International Child Custody, which focuses on those dealing with the complicated issue of international divorce and child custody. He writes a weekly column for the Santa Monica Daily Press titled, "What's the Point," and has authored three books on divorce for men. He also contributes to a wide variety of publications, including Huffington Post, Divorce360, Sudden Bachelor and many others. His most recent book, "What About Wally? Co-Parenting A Pet With Your Ex," has received global media recognition and is co-authored with pet expert Steven May. It focuses on the common but underreported issue of what happens to the dog in a divorce or separation.Website: http://www.mensfamilylaw.comMedia Contact: Todd Fraser,

Richard L. KaplanPeer and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law University of IllinoisThe resolution of a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act could have complicated tax consequences for same-sex couples, says Kaplan: "Marital status is implicated in more than 1,100 separate federal provisions, including more than 200 provisions in the tax code alone. The Affordable Care Act imposes two new taxes on married couples with incomes greater than $250,000 and individuals with income greater than $200,000. So, if two married people each earn $150,000, their combined income of $300,000 makes them liable for this extra tax. But under current law, a same-sex couple would not owe anything, because unmarried filers have an individual threshold of $200,000 each. The new Medicare tax on investment income works the same way. Marriage does, however, have significant financial benefits under other federal laws. Social Security provides a spousal benefit equal to half of a worker's retirement benefit while that worker is alive, and a surviving spouse is entitled to that worker's full benefit when the worker dies. Similarly, Medicare is available to the spouse of a worker enrolled in the program -- even if the spouse was never in the compensated workforce. Under current law, same-sex partners are not eligible for either Social Security or Medicare benefits because DOMA defines a 'spouse' as someone of the opposite gender. But if the court overturns DOMA, married same-sex couples would be eligible for those benefits. The ultimate irony in terms of defending marriage is that a divorced heterosexual spouse is currently entitled to Social Security and Medicare benefits as long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years, while DOMA holds that a same-sex spouse is completely ineligible for such benefits no matter how long they've been together."Media Contact: Philip Ciciora,

Steve SieboldGay-Rights Activist, AuthorSiebold predicts that within the next 10 years, gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states: "We've seen a huge shift in the numbers, and more Americans now support gay marriage than don't. Americans are finally starting to realize that homosexuality is neither a choice nor a disease, any more than being a heterosexual is. Educated Americans know that homosexuals are no better or worse than anyone else, and should be left alone to pursue their own version of the American dream. This includes the right to marry. American society is still suffering from its puritanical roots, and many of our citizens refuse to accept anything that contradicts our cultural norms. The worst offenders are the religious zealots and televangelists who have poisoned millions with their hate-filled tirades against homosexuals. Would the average American allow a bully to beat up a little kid? No, but that's exactly what we've allowed these religious extremists to do to homosexuals."Siebold is author of the book "Sex, Politics and Religion: How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America."Media Contact: Bruce Serbin,

Amy Stone Associate Professor of Sociology Trinity UniversityFor her book, "Gay Rights at the Ballot Box," Stone chronicled the history of ballot victories and defeats of the LGBT movement and the effect ballot measures have had on the movement: "There is a real tension between the ballot measures, which take up tons of time, energy, and money, and the larger movement. At the same time, ballot campaigns can have a beneficial effect on the LGBT community. The need to organize during an election can bring together activists who had not been in contact before.  Once the campaign is over, local groups have the resources and skills needed to continue working on other issues. The good news is that the LGBT movement has become really good at fighting anti-gay ballot measures. Voters have become more supportive of nondiscrimination laws and increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage. Just in the last couple of years, support for same-sex marriage has grown dramatically."Media Contact: Russell Guerrero,

Mark ScurtiAttorney Pessin KatzScurti teaches "Contemporary Legal Issues Seminar: Sexual Orientation and the Law" as an adjunct professor at University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and is a private attorney with the Baltimore firm of Pessin Katz, where he practices in bankruptcy and same-sex law. He is a leader in Maryland's pro bono legal community and in providing legal assistance to the LGBT community. Scurti plans to attend the March 26 hearing on the Prop 8 case.Bio: Carey Law class: Contact: Jeffrey Raymond,

David S. CohenProfessor Drexel UniversityCohen is a constitutional law and gender issues expert and a professor at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia. His publications include articles in the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, George Washington Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Boston University Law Review, the South Carolina Law Review and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. His previous scholarship looked at Title IX protections against sex discrimination as well as race in the criminal justice system. Cohen received his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where he was named a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and received the Public Interest Commitment Award and two Columbia Human Rights Fellowships. He was managing editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.Bio: Contact: Alex McKechnie,

George SeideFounding PartnerAdelman & Seide, LLPA family attorney since 1992, Seide practices general family law with a few sub-specialties, including prosecution and defense of contempt proceedings, formation and termination of same-sex marriages and of domestic partnerships which have been legally registered, and representing people facing charges of not paying child support.  He was certified as a family law specialist in 2004, and recently finished serving as chairperson of the State Bar Family Law Section for The California State Bar.Expert Contact:

Neal DevinsGoodrich Professor of Law, Marshall-Wythe School of LawThe College of William & MaryDevins served as assistant general counsel for the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, and project director for the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies. He is the author of "Shaping Constitutional Values: The Supreme Court, Elected Government and the Abortion Dispute," and articles in the Chicago, Columbia, Stanford, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, William and Mary and Yale Law Reviews. He is co-author of "Political Dynamics of Constitutional Law and The Democratic Constitution," and editor of the book series, "Constitutional Conflicts," published by Duke University Press. He is a consultant to the ABA Central and Eastern European Law Initiative, reporter for the Congressional Process Committee of the ABA, and serves on the board of directors of AVALON (a battered women's shelter). He is faculty advisor to the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal. Devins co-authored a post regarding same-sex marriage on SCOTUSblog last year: Media Contact: Phillip Jones,

Aaron BruhlAssociate Professor of Law University of Houston Law CenterBruhl can address the litigation history, political and historical significance of these cases, possible rulings the court could issue, and Supreme Court procedure. Bruhl teaches and writes on statutory interpretation, federal courts and the legislative process.Media Contacts: Carrie Criado,, or John T. Kling,

Geoffrey HoffmanClinical Associate Professor of Law University of Houston Law CenterHoffman can comment on the possible ramifications of the cases as applied to family-based immigration cases. Hoffman is the director of the UH Law Center's Immigration Clinic.Media Contacts: Carrie Criado,, or John T. Kling,

Thomas OldhamProfessor of Law University of Houston Law CenterOldham can address the odds the court will announce a constitutional right to marry for gay couples and what are the likely results. Oldham is a recognized expert in family law and marital property.Media Contacts: Carrie Criado,, or John T. Kling,

Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, Ph.D.Senior Minister/Minister for Vision, Worship and the ArtsMiddle Collegiate ChurchA gay-rights activist, Lewis is senior minister/minister for vision, worship and the arts at Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Drew University (M.Phil. and Ph.D.). Lewis, ordained in the Presbyterian Church ( USA,) serves on the Multiracial Congregation Task Force of the Reformed Church in America. She is a guest speaker and preacher on the topics of racial justice and reconciliation. She is an adjunct professor at The Graduate Theological Union (Center for Arts and Worship), Wesley Theological Seminary (Leadership, D.Min program) and Union Theological Seminary (Preaching and Worship). She is the author of "You are So Wonderful! A Rhyming Celebration of the Uniqueness of Every Child" (Augsburg Fortress, 2003). Her book, "The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leaders in Multi-Racial and Multi-Cultural Congregations," was published in April 2008 by Abingdon Press.Contact Information: Dinorah Peña,


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