On January 27, Patriotic Millionaire Roberta Kaplan was presented with the Gold Medal Award, the highest honor awarded by the New York State Bar Association. Kaplan is a civil rights lawyer who came to prominence for representing Edith Windsor in United States v. Windsor (2013). As counsel, Kaplan argued that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Her success in the case paved the way for Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which legalized same-sex marriage.
“Robbie’s life has not been the same since U.S. v. Windsor, but this outcome builds on an extraordinary career by an extraordinary individual,” State Bar Association President Sharon Stern Gerstman said. “Beyond her legal skills, Robbie always keeps the focus on the best interests of the clients, painting the picture of the clients as real people and illustrating how their lives are affected by the legal matters at hand.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Kaplan has continued to be an advocate for equality. Currently, she and Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff Tina Tchen are spearheading the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. #TimesUp is a nonprofit that has already raised more than $16 million towards providing legal representation for women who have experienced discrimination, and sexual harassment and violence.
“People should realize that this is an unprecedented moment in history, where women who, for hundreds of years (if not millenia), accepted certain kinds of conduct which they are no longer willing to accept,” Kaplan told forbes.com. “Time’s Up, both culturally and practically is playing a huge role in that. The most important thing for women to do is to continue speaking up, continue speaking out, and continue supporting initiatives like Time’s Up that give women who may not otherwise have it the resources to do the same.”
Roberta Kaplan joins a long list of Gold Medal Award recipients who have contributed to civic and community matters, including former Attorney General Eric Holder and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.