Litigation partner and former Supreme Court clerk Theane Evangelis is at the forefront of one of the nation’s most talked about and controversial movements in recent memory— that of marriage equality and what she called “the last frontier” of civil rights in the United States.
The Boston native graduated first in her class from NYU Law School and worked as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before joining Gibson Dunn in Los Angeles. Theane has been named one of the top 25 lawyers under 40 in California, and one of the rising stars in appellate law nationwide. She has been involved in a wide range of appellate, constitutional, media and entertainment matters, as well as class actions of every stripe— but none more high profile than the landmark Prop. 8 case in California.
Evangelis was one of the lawyers that successfully represented two gay couples who challenged Prop. 8, an amendment to the California Constitution approved by voters in 2008 that denied same-sex couples the right to marry. Theane and the Gibson Dunn team filed suit in a San Francisco federal court in 2009, challenging the ban as unconstitutional. The district court struck down the ban after a three-week trial, declaring that Prop. 8 discriminates against gays and lesbians and denies them their fundamental right to marry. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which let the district court’s decision striking down Prop. 8 stand in June 2013, bringing marriage equality to California.
The groundbreaking Prop. 8 case made history –- it was the first federal case striking down a ban on same-sex marriage. Since then, courts across the country have cited the decision in holding similar laws unconstitutional. The legal battle was the subject of the award-winning HBO documentary, “The Case Against 8.”
“Our case showed that gay and lesbian Americans deserve the same rights to equality and to marry the person they love,” she told The Pappas Post. “Marriage bans like Prop. 8 are unconstitutional and serve no purpose but to harm gay and lesbian couples and their families.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is now poised to decide whether similar marriage bans in Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky, and Ohio are also unconstitutional. In this interview with MSNBC, Theane predicted that the Court will strike down these bans and uphold marriage equality. A decision is expected in June.
“The case is the last frontier in civil rights,” she said.
See her interview on MSNBC News.