Ben Kwan revisits landmark Minnesota LGBT court ruling for Minnesota Lawyer

Haller Kwan LLP’s Managing Partner, Ben Kwan, indulged his first love, journalism, this summer and contributed a freelance piece for Minnesota Lawyer published last week.

In The Minnesota legal fight that changed the course of the gay rights movement, Kwan takes a look at a “family that nearly wasn’t” and the legacy of a landmark legal case and where the cases’s litigants are three decades later.

Thirty years ago on August 7th, thousands of LGBT rights activists and supporters took to the streets in 21 cities across the country for “National Free Sharon Kowalski Day.” The day became a flashpoint in the gay rights movement as a Minnesota woman fought for her right to care for and make decisions for her partner of four years, who had been severely injured by a drunk driver—and whose family later barred her partner from even seeing her.

A few years later, after a grueling legal battle, a landmark Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling overturned years of court-sanctioned “bigotry,” according to the lawyer representing the lesbian woman fighting for legal guardianship of her partner, and offered a new refrain for the gay rights movement—that same-sex relationships “ought to be accorded respect.” That was a landmark notion in 1991. My, how far we have come as a society.