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‘Comparative Legal Approaches to Same-Sex Unions’ Topic of 2008 Edward M. Wise Memorial Symposium, March 31

March 07, 2008

DETROIT (March 7, 2008) – Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce The 2008 Edward M. Wise Memorial Symposium on “Comparative Legal Approaches to Same-Sex Unions” beginning at 12:15 p.m. on March 31, 2008, in the Law School’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium.

Named in memory of Edward M. Wise, a renowned scholar and Wayne Law professor of criminal law, comparative law, international criminal law and legal history, this year’s Symposium will feature two panel discussions. The first, from 12:15 – 2 p.m., will address “Same-Sex Relationships in Comparative Perspective: The Laws of Europe, Canada, and the United States.” The second, from 2:15 – 4 p.m., will feature “The View from Michigan.”

The panel discussions will feature internationally renowned comparative law experts, as well as local advocates. Participants will include:

Panel 1

Brenda Cossman is a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto. She has also served in various faculty positions at Harvard Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, as well as director of the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies. Her teaching and research are focused in the areas of family law, feminist legal studies, international human rights and law and international development. She holds a B.A.(Hon) from Queen's University, an LL.B. from the University of Toronto, and an LL.M. from Harvard University.

Ian Curry-Sumner received a first class law degree from Christ's College, Cambridge University, before going on to complete his doctoral research at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. His thesis, entitled "All's well that ends registered?", investigated the substantive and private international law (conflict of laws) issues relating to registered partnerships in Europe. Alongside other awards, he has recently been awarded a prestigious grant from Dutch Scientific Organisation (Nederlandse Wetenschappelijke Organisatie) to investigate the transnational recovery of child maintenance in Europe. His teaching focuses on comparative law methodology, comparative family law, private international law and English law. He has furthermore presented at conferences in both Europe and the U.S. and has taught in England, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Kansas.

Nancy G. Maxwell has been teaching at Washburn University School of Law for the past 28 years.  Prior to that she was a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota.  She currently teaches Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory, Family Law Seminar and Criminal Law.  Her publications include several comparative law articles dealing with same-sex marriage, same-sex co-parent adoption, and parentage issues. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she is the Director of International Legal Programs at Washburn.  Professor Maxwell holds a J.D. from the University of North Dakota and an LL.M. from Harvard.

Robert Wintemute is a Professor of Human Rights Law in the School of Law, King's College, University of London, where he teaches European Union Law, Human Rights Law, and Anti-Discrimination Law.  Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, he studied the common law of English-speaking Canada and the civil law of Québec at McGill University (Montréal). A member of the Bar of the State of New York, he practiced Chapter 11 bankruptcy law with Milbank Tweed, before doing his doctorate in human rights law at the  University of Oxford. He is the author of Sexual Orientation and Human Rights:  The United States Constitution, the European Convention, and the Canadian Charter (Oxford University Press, 1997), and the editor (with honorary co-editor Mads Andenæs) of Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Partnerships: A Study of National, European and International Law (Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2001). He is currently writing a book on Anti-Discrimination Law for Oxford University Press. 

Panel 2

John Corvino Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wayne State. He is the editor of Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality and the author of numerous articles on sexual orientation and ethics. He is also a widely traveled speaker and a regular columnist for 365gay.com, "America's Most Read Gay News Source."

Deborah LaBelle has been lead counsel in over a dozen class actions that have successfully challenged policies affecting and treatment of incarcerated men, women and juveniles and their families, arguing several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and in international forums.  She is acting as ACLU lead counsel in National Pride at Work, Inc. v. Granholm, a case currently before the Michigan Supreme Court that challenges the ban on domestic partner benefits. Her practice in Ann Arbor, focuses on the human rights of people in detention. LaBelle was the first American to be designated as Human Rights Monitor by Human Rights Watch for her work on behalf of women prisoners and use of international standards on behalf of those in detention in the United States, and was the ACLU’s Civil Libertarian of the Year in 2006. 

Mike Steinberg has served as the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan since 1997 and is responsible for overseeing all of the litigation taken on by the ACLU throughout the state. Steinberg earned a B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University in 1983 and is a 1989 cum laude graduate of Wayne State University Law School. Upon graduation, he clerked  for then Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Marilyn Kelly (now a Michigan Supreme Court Justice). He then established his own private practice in Ann Arbor where he specialized in civil rights litigation and civil and criminal appeals. Among his many cases, Steinberg challenged the Ann Arbor Police Department’s practice of coercing African American men into giving blood for DNA testing during the Ann Arbor serial rapist investigation.  

Moderators include Wayne Law Professor Joan Mahoney (Panel 1) and Wayne Law Professor Peter Hammer (Panel 2). Sponsors of the 2008 Edward M. Wise Memorial Symposium include The Izumi Family Fund, The Journal of Law in Society, the Wayne State Chapter of the American Constitution Society, and the Wayne State OutLaws.

The Symposium, which will be followed by a reception, is free and open to the public. Parking is available in Structure #1 across from the Law School for $3.50. For more information on this event, please contact Robin Dortenzio (313) 577-3934 or robind@wayne.edu.

For more information on Edward M. Wise and the history of the Symposium, please visit http://www.law.wayne.edu/news/news/101906_2.html.

Wayne State University Law School has served Michigan and beyond since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 30 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized faculty, Wayne State Law School students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, five live-client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.

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