For Immediate Release - October 30, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Honored for Work in Civil Rights and Public Safety

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley will be honored tonight with the 2009 Robert Ian Schlessinger Memorial Award for her efforts in public safety and civil rights, including her filing of a lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This honor will be awarded by the Gay Officers Action League of New England's at their 13 th Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony, held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

"We filed our challenge against DOMA because we believe it is one of the most discriminatory laws in the nation today," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "This discrimination affects many of our public safety officers whose same-sex spouses are not able to access important marital benefits. I will continue to advocate for GLBT rights and equality, both for those in public safety who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe, and for the GLBT community as a whole."

Founded in 1991, the Gay Officers Action League of New England (G.O.A.L. - New England) is a thriving organization that functions as a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) law enforcement officers and civilian employees. G.O.A.L. - New England provides peer support among members, a forum for members to share their experiences, and comprehensive training for criminal justice professionals to enhance knowledge of GLBT issues. This award is given in memory of Robert Ian Schlessinger, who was Boston's first openly gay police officer as well as a founding member of G.O.A.L. - New England, and is awarded to an honoree who has made a significant difference in the lives of gay and lesbian public servants.

Since taking office in January 2007, Attorney General Coakley has vigorously advocated for the rights of the GLBT community, and has brought actions to protect individuals whose rights have been violated based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Attorney General has sought and obtained multiple civil rights injunctions to protect GLBT victims of hate crimes. In addition, Attorney General Coakley's office has conducted several trainings with police departments and district attorney's offices around the state on how to better identify and respond to hate crimes. In July 2009, Attorney General Coakley's office filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, unfairly excluding more than 16,000 Massachusetts married same-sex couples and their families from critically important rights and protections based on marital status. The Attorney General has also opposed a state constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, and fought for state legislation to amend hate crime and non-discrimination laws to protect the civil rights of transgender people.

The G.O.A.L. - New England 13 th Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony will be held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel at the Prudential Center located on Dalton Street in Boston at 6:30 p.m. Approximately 150 law enforcement officers, civilian employees, advocates and supporters are expected to attend tonight's event.