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WER Spring 2016 Front Page
Volume XLI, Issue I

About With Equal Right

In This Issue:
"After Obergefell v. Hodges"


MWL News


Upcoming Events

View all of MWL's Upcoming Events

2015-2016 Board of Directors

View all MWL Leadership

2015-2018 Strategic Plan


MWL Welcomes Your Comments

From the President

By: Bridget McCauley Nason

It feels like just yesterday when I wrote my first From the President column, outlining how, during the term of my presidency, Minnesota Women Lawyers would be focusing on rebuilding and reorganization, with the ultimate goal of revising MWL’s organizational structure to be in the best position to implement the direction of its recently-adopted strategic plan.  It’s safe to say that the past year has flown by, and it is bittersweet to be writing the last of my columns as the President of Minnesota Women Lawyers. This past year has been a continued year of change for MWL, and I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the exciting organizational changes that have been implemented over the past ten months and how MWL has positioned itself to move forward into the future....  

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I Pronounce You Married

By: Judge Nicole Starr

I.  “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.”  When I was in grade school, every Saturday was a wedding day. That’s because my father, though he worked as a full-time public school teacher, photographed weddings on the weekends.  Naturally, wedding stories were part of the fabric of our family.  We had stories of couples that had come together against all odds, grooms left standing alone and waiting (and waiting) for brides that never came, fainting bridesmaids, poorly behaved groomsmen, and wedding-wardrobe malfunctions....

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The Role of Second-Parent Adoption for Same Sex Couples Post-Obergefell

By: Laura E. Nelson

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in Obergefell v. Hodges. This landmark ruling was a significant milestone for same sex families. The recognition of same sex marriages at both the state and federal level strengthened the parental rights for some same sex couples; however, the extent of those rights are still being determined and will continue to be dependent on state law.  Before Minnesota recognized same sex marriage in 2013, if a committed lesbian couple chose to have a child together, only the mother who carried the child was legally considered the child’s mother....  

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Multi-National Same Sex Couples: The Legal Journey to Cross Borders

By: Matthew A. Streff


The question, “how can I bring my same-sex partner to the United States?” had been, until recently, one of the most heartbreaking for me to address. Stories of multi-national same-sex couples spending cumulative years of their lives apart because of immigration problems were disturbingly common. Couples would have to make multiple expensive trips back and forth between countries, often staying together for only a few months on tourist visas.The June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court Decision in United States v. Windsor marked a watershed change in the lives of most multi-national same-sex couples.... 

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Obergefell v. Hodges and the Accelerated Use of Religious Exemption Arguments

By: Amy Conners

The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges guaranteed marriage equality for all Americans, and put an end to a patchwork of laws that ran the gamut from marriage equality in some states to state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in others. But Obergefell accelerated the use of religious exemption arguments in courts, legislatures, and government offices by those opposed to marriage equality.  The religious-exemption stage had been set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, which interpreted a federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as affording more protection for religion than that provided under the First Amendment..... 

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100% Club Spotlight: Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.


Winthrop & Weinstine is proud of its membership in the Minnesota Women Lawyers 100% Club, as well as its bronze-level partnership with MWL. The firm is committed to continually working toward achieving equality for women, both in the legal profession and in our community as a whole. The firm has a history of taking action on its beliefs, dating back to its founding more than 35 years ago. Feeling stifled by the restricted culture of their old firm, six attorneys broke off to form Winthrop & Weinstine. Since those first days, the firm....  

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MWL Member Spotlight: Melissa Houghtaling

1. When and why did you join MWL? 

I joined MWL in 2014 to connect with women in the legal community.  Although we live in an age where women have more access to legal careers, there can still be feelings of isolation and “otherness” in certain legal settings.  I wanted to learn from women who have practiced, persevered, and maintained a work – life balance while being successful. 

2. Could you describe your background, career path and current job?

I’m a small town South Dakota girl living in the big city world.  Growing up in rural South Dakota (well, all of South Dakota is rural so that qualifier is probably unnecessary), the Twin Cities were as foreign and wondrous as New York or Paris....  

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 MWL's Mission:
"To advance the success of women lawyers and strive for a just society."

MWL Member Thanks

MWL extends its sincere thanks to all 2015-2016 members. Learn more about MWL membership here.

Diamond Members
Stacy Bettison
Felicia Boyd
Sam Hanson
Arleen Nand
Bridget Nason
Susan C. Rhode
Hon. Mary Vasaly


MWL Partners

Special Thanks to MWL's 2016 Legal Employer Partners

Briggs and Morgan, P.A.
Dorsey & Whitney, LLP
Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP
Gustafson Gluek PLLC
Robins Kaplan LLP

Barnes & Thornburg, LLP
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
Lindquist & Vennum LLP
Stinson Leonard Street LLP
Zelle LLP

Fox Rothschild LLP
Gray Plant Mooty
Larkin Hoffman  
Maslon LLP
Moss & Barnett
Nilan Johnson Lewis PA
Stoel Rives LLP
UnitedHealth Group 

3M Companies
Arthur, Chapman, Kettering, Smetak & Pikala, P.A.
Bassford Remele
Benchmark Reporting Agency
Bowman and Brooke LLP
Carlson Caspers
Depo International
Felhaber Larson 
Foster Klima Inc. / The Guardian Life Insurance Company
Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP 
Greene Espel PLLP
LeVander, Gillen & Miller, P.A.
Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, P.A.
Meagher & Geer PLLP
Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt
Norton Rose Fulbright
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Steward, P.C.
Paradigm Reporting & Captioning
Patterson Thuente IP
Robert Half Legal
Schwebel Goetz & Sieben PA
Special Counsel, Inc.
Tower Legal Solutions
U.S. Bank
Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A.
Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.
Xcel Energy

Learn more about 2016 Partner Opportunities


MWL's 100% Club

Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Beacon Hill Legal 
Blethen Gage & Krause PLLP
Bloch & Whitehouse, P.A.
Brekke, Clyborne & Ribich, L.L.C.
Brown and Carlson, PA
Ciresi Conlin LLP
Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP
Gerlach, Beaumier & Trogdon
Greene Espel PLLP
Gustafson Gluek PLLC
Hammargren & Meyer, P.A.
Jackson Lewis P.C.
Johnson & Turner Attorneys at Law, P.A.
Larkin Hoffman
Larson • King, LLP 
LeVander, Gillen & Miller, P.A. 
Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson P.A.
Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Patterson Thuente Pedersen, P.A.
Reichert Wenner, P.A.
Quinlivan & Hughes, P.A.
Special Counsel
Sykora & Santini PLLP
Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC
Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A.
Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.


Minnesota Women Lawyers
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Minneapolis, MN 55402

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