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Roberta Kaplan

MAKERS Profile

United States V. Windsor Attorney

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In this MAKERS interview, attorney Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan talks about why she chose to take on the landmark Edie Windsor case, what made the case personal, and the Supreme Court's landmark decision ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Roberta's Biography

Born and Raised:Born in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, "in the heart of the Midwest."
Grandmother's Influence:"She really believed that you do and say what you believe is right, no matter what, and that's what we are all put on this earth to do."
Judaism:"That was very much part of our identity, and certainly my grandmother's identity."
Sandra Day O'Connor's Supreme Court Appointment:"I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and I remember thinking...maybe, you never know, one day, that could be me."

Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan is the attorney who successfully argued the United States V. Windsor case, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law.
 
A partner in the Litigation Department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Robbie's Supreme Court argument on behalf of Edie Windsor may be the most significant civil rights decision of our time. In its majority opinion in Windsor, the Supreme Court held that the status of being a married gay person is "a far-reaching legal acknowledgment of the intimate relationship between two people, a relationship deemed … worthy of dignity in the community equal with all other marriages."
 
The consequences of the Windsor decision have been both rapid and profound. At least 13 Lower courts throughout the United States, including in New Jersey, Ohio, New Mexico, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah, have since held, relying explicitly on Windsor, that gay couples in those jurisdictions should be accorded equal rights.

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