11/15/2021 | Press release | Archived content
CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2021 - The American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) will honor Washington State Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener with its Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 12, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. PST at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Seattle.
Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes.
Whitener was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court in April 2020 and was elected by the voters to retain her position in November 2020. Prior to that, Whitener served as a judge on the Pierce County Superior Court judge and the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, and as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court.
Before becoming a judge, Whitener litigated civil and criminal cases for 14 years as first a prosecutor and defense attorney and later as a managing partner of the law firm of Whitener Rainey Writt PS in Tacoma. She is well recognized by the legal community for her commitment to justice and equity. In January, Whitener received the Western Region of the National Black Law Students Association Judge of the Year Award. The 400 Years of African American History Commission has also honored Whitener, naming her a 2020 Distinguished 400 Awardee. She is the former co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission.
Whitener serves on the board of the International Association of LGBT Judges as well as on the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee.
Whitener, who received her J.D. from Seattle University School of Law, is the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court, the fourth immigrant-born justice and the first Black LGBT judge in the State of Washington.
"We are thrilled to honor Justice Helen Whitener, who even after being elevated to a higher judicial office continues to share her experience to raise awareness for matters of race, justice and equity and be a voice for many marginalized communities so that we can have a justice system that works for all," said Judge Benes Aldana, chair of SOGI.
You can find a photo of Whitener here.
The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA's commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
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