On Friday, February 17th Katherine Darmer, Chapman University School of Law professor and vocal proponent for church/state separation, died after falling from a building in Irvine. The Orange County coroner has ruled her death as a suicide.
Her death is a loss to all of us in the church-state separation community and Americans United's Orange County chapter is especially saddened having worked with Katherine since 2008.We were privileged to have her as our speaker in September 2009. At that event she spoke about the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans where she pointed out that "success brings backlash" meaning that the recent push to restrict LGBT rights comes because the community has been successful in gaining a more equal footing in civil rights. Her presentation was inspiring and galvanizing.
Katherine Darmer worked tirelessly on gay rights with her opposition to Proposition 8, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the law suit against the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for sanctioning an atmosphere that is hostile to female, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students. She was also the founding legal chair of the Orange County Equality Coalition.
Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the UC Irvine Law School said “Katherine was a truly wonderful person. She was a terrific teacher and scholar and a deeply committed activist who used her knowledge to make a real difference. Most of all, she was a terrific human being.”
Darmer was a 1989 Columbia University law graduate; she clerked for U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in the Southern District of New York and for the late Judge William H. Timbers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District from 1995 to 1999 prosecuting public corruption, gang and narcotics cases and moved to teaching at Chapman in 2000 where she specialized in criminal and constitutional law. Darmer co-edited the books “Civil Liberties vs. National Security in a Post-9/11 World” and “Morality and the Law.” Her legal writings included pieces on torture, civil rights and the legal landscape after Proposition 8.
Written by guest blogger Steph Campbell, President of the Orange County Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State