News :: National

Chief Justice’s Lesbian Cousin Attends Prop. 8 Hearing

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Mar 26, 2013
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s first cousin will be among those attending the Mar. 26 hearing on the validity of California’s Proposition 8.

As reported in The Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, Jean Podrasky, 48, said she was very excited, as well as "quite honored and overwhelmed" to see her close relative preside at the historic event, which may well result in the blanket legalization of same-sex marriage in California and perhaps nationally.

Podrasky is especially interested in the hearings because she wants to marry her female partner of four years, Grace Fasano. The couple live in San Francisco.

Although Roberts, nominated by President George W. Bush eight years ago, has reliably sided with conservatives on the court, he memorably broke with them to cast the deciding vote in favor of Obamacare. Podrasky said she has only seen her cousin during family get-togethers, but that she hopes Roberts will have the chance to meet Fasano during their trip to Washington.

"He is a smart man," Podrasky told the L.A. Times. "He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction."

Roberts, Podrasky’s cousin on his mother’s side, apparently knows she will be attending the hearing, along with her sister and niece. Podrasky said she doesn’t know Roberts’ views on marriage equality, but she anticipates the court will overturn the referendum, which California voters approved in 2008.

The high court is hearing arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act the next day. The justices aren’t expected to make a ruling on either case until at least late June.

In the weeks leading up to the November 2008 election, Podrasky campaigned against Proposition 8. The San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights asked Podrasky to write a column about being related to the chief justice.

"Everyone in this country has a family member who is part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community," she wrote. "As a Californian, I want nothing more than to marry my wonderful girlfriend. And as a tax-paying citizen, I seek basic fairness."

Podrasky, however, isn’t sure if having an openly gay member in Roberts’ family will impact his thinking. "Everybody knows somebody who is gay," she said. "It probably impacts everybody."

Podrasky obtained the coveted seats for the hearing after emailing Roberts’ sister, Peggy Roberts, who directed her to his secretary. It may have been relatively easy for her to snag tickets to the event, but everyone else has had to camp out in a freak snowstorm in front of the Washington, D.C., building for several days. More than three dozen people have been patiently holed up under umbrellas or covered in tarp as the snow fell on Monday.

The Associated Press notes that one woman was wearing a trash bag from the waist down. The first person to get in line for the cases did so on Thursday and some people are being paid to hold places for others.

This article is part of our "Gay Marriage and the Supremes" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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