Since at least 1983, when a Harvard Law student wrote a third-year paper exploring a human rights argument for same-sex marriage, HLS has participated in anticipating, shaping, critiquing, analyzing and guiding the long path toward marriage equality.
In the 1980s, Harvard Law students wrote papers and student notes debating the pros and cons of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Those students graduated and became advocates who argued before legislatures and courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, both for and against legal recognitions of same-sex marriage. Others eventually became judges whose decisions created a legal basis for marriage equality, and some became scholars whose contributions inspired a new generation of students, advocates, and judges to think critically and creatively about LGBT rights. Together, they helped shape the course of a social and legal movement that surprised many by its swift changes in both public perception and legal doctrine.