Shannon Minter

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Shannon Price Minter (born February 14, 1961) is an American civil rights attorney and the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.[1][2][3]

A 1993 graduate of Cornell Law School, Minter has been lead counsel in dozens of groundbreaking legal victories for the LGBT community.[2] A trans man who transitioned at the age of 35, Minter grew up in East Texas.[1][2] Minter did not change his name when he transitioned from female to male,[1] although he later added the middle name Price in honor of his uncle who died in 2003.

He has a wife whom he married in 2001 and a daughter.[2] Minter said at the time he was pained "by the injustice" that transgender individuals may be legally married in California while gay and lesbian couples could not.[2]

Minter also has taught law at Stanford University, Golden Gate University and Santa Clara University.[4]

Legal career[edit]

Minter first gained national attention in the United States in 2001 representing the lesbian partner of Diane Whipple, in a wrongful death case due to a dog mauling; which resulted in a landmark decision in California that extended tort claims to same-sex domestic partners; previously it was a right limited only to married couples.[4] Marjorie Knoller was sentenced to serve 15 years to life for the death of Diane Whipple.[5][6] Whipple's partner, Sharon Smith, succeeded in suing for $1,500,000 in civil damages, which she donated to Saint Mary's College of California to fund the women's lacrosse team.

In 2003, Minter gained national attention again when CourtTV aired the entire case of Kantaras v. Kantaras, where Minter represented Michael Kantaras, a transgender man who was trying to keep custody of his children.[4] Though he won that case in 2002, it was reversed on appeal in 2004 by the Florida Supreme Court, upholding the claim that the marriage was null and void because her ex-husband was still a woman and same-sex marriages are illegal in Florida.[7] The couple settled the case with joint custody in 2005.[8]

In 2009 Minter was the lead attorney arguing before the California Supreme Court to overturn California Proposition 8.[2][3] He was opposed in the courtroom by Ken Starr.[2][3] Ken Starr won the case.


Minter won a Ford Foundation "Leadership for a Changing World" award in October 2005.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Mangaliman, Jessie (2005-10-06). San Jose Mercury News. Transgender Advocate Honored Retrieved on 2009-03-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rojas, Aurelio (2009-03-03). "Ken Starr vs. transsexual in Prop 8 case". Chicago Sun-Times (Sacramento Bee News Service). Retrieved 2009-03-05. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Jesse McKinley and John Schwartz. McKinley, Jesse; Schwartz, John (2009-03-04). "California Court to Weigh Gay Marriage Ban". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lowery, George (2005-11-29). "Unfair and unequal: Attorney Minter champions rights of sexual minorities". Cornell University Chronicle). Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  5. ^ Knoller Gets 15 to Life in Dog-Mauling Case-
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Michael J Kantaras v Linda Kantaras [2003] Case No. 98-5375CA. 511998DR005375xxxWS, 6th Circuit
  8. ^ Emanuella Grinberg (June 16, 2005). Settlement reached in transsexual custody case. CNN