2015 Award

HARRISBURG (April 16, 2015) - The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Rights Committee will present its inaugural David M. Rosenblum GLBT Public Policy Award to Philadelphia lawyer Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director, ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Roper will receive the award during a reception of the PBA GLBT Rights, Minority Bar, Solo and Small Firm and Commission on Women in the Profession committees and the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation on May 7 during the association's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Rosenblum, an active member of the PBA GLBT Rights Committee and a staunch proponent of civil rights, passed away suddenly last May. He was a driving force behind the report, "How Marriage Counts: 572 Ways Marriage Counts in Pennsylvania," a joint publication of the PBA GLBT Rights Committee, the Mazzoni Center and Dechert LLP. Rosenblum was the legal director at the Mazzoni Center. The award winner must have effected change that resulted in a positive impact for the GLBT community and must have used his or her position of leadership to inspire others to act and promote civil rights and equality.

In 2005, Roper joined the Philadelphia office of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. She coordinates litigation on a broad range of civil liberty issues, including GLBT rights, freedom of speech, racial and ethnic justice, students' rights and privacy.

She has achieved important court victories on GLBT issues, including bringing marriage equality to Pennsylvania through her work for plaintiffs in Whitewood v. Wolf, the federal lawsuit that successfully challenged the Pennsylvania Marriage Laws as amended in 1996 to ban same-sex marriage.

Roper is currently working with a coalition of organizations advocating for statewide legislation to expand Pennsylvania's Human Relations Act to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She also has worked to defend local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Roper serves on the Mazzoni Center Legal Advisory Board. She also served as counsel to the William Way LGBT Community Center and is currently working with the center on "Speaking OUT for Justice: The Constitution, Gay Rights & The Supreme Court," a historic exhibit addressing 50 years of GLBT civil rights and constitutional law that is to be featured from June through September at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia.

She regularly mentors and trains aspiring public interest lawyers as well as private practice lawyers to advocate for GLBT equality.

Roper is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access to legal services; and serve the 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.