Albert Toney III

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Albert M. Toney III
Born (1966-10-24) October 24, 1966 (age 51)
Worcester, Massachusetts

Albert Toney III (born October 24, 1966) is a civil rights activist who retired from the Worcester Massachusetts Police Department after being shot in the line of duty.

Life[edit]

Albert Toney III was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the son of a Massachusetts State Police Sergeant and an elementary school teacher. He joined the Worcester Massachusetts Police Department in 1987. He became a father to his biological daughter, Kayla, in 1988. In 1991 he was shot in the line of duty in an incident that killed his then life partner, Robert Domiano Jr, another friend, John Ellison, later perished, and Albert Toney III was the sole survivor.[1] The shooter received life imprisonment for his actions after a nationwide manhunt.[2] As a result of the shooting Albert became the first openly gay police officer on the Worcester Police Department, and he publicly declared that he would focus his efforts on gay civil rights.[3] Albert retired from the police force in 1995 as a result of his injuries from the shooting, but he continued on the path of educating people about the many myths and stereotypes people learn about those who are different than them, particularly the gay and lesbian community and communities of color. In 2001 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the 1992 first-degree murder conviction and ordered a new trial based on how the judge who presided over the 1992 trial instructed the jury on the elements of first-degree murder.[4] On March 31, 2003 the shooter was again convicted of first-degree murder by a jury of six men and six women in the Worcester Superior Court and was again sentenced to life imprisonment.[5]

Civil Rights Activism - Focus on LGBT Community[edit]

Albert Toney III dedicated his life's work to educating and promoting equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community after retiring from the police force as a result of his injuries sustained in a shooting. He became involved with his future husband, Keith Fitzpatrick, in 1999. The pair were actively involved in the gay civil rights movement, becoming the faces of gay marriage in Massachusetts while educating people about the importance of recognizing gay and lesbian relationships and families. Their family was featured in a documentary covering the contentious debate over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, "Same Sex America", by renowned filmmaker, Henry Corra in 2004.[6] That year they also were filmed for a televised public service announcement, "Its Wrong to Vote on Rights - The Toneys", regarding a proposed ballot initiative within the Massachusetts Legislature attempting to send the initiative to the public for vote on amending the state constitution to define marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.[7] Albert was also appointed as co-vice-chair of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Advisory Board by Governor Deval Patrick on October 30, 2007.[8]

Only Successful Challenge Against Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Before SCOTUS Ruled Law Unconstitutional[edit]

Albert Toney III and Keith Fitzpatrick were legally married in 2004 in the state of Massachusetts and became the first same-sex marriage in their town of Holden, MA. Through marriage Keith Fitzpatrick became Keith Toney, having taken Albert's surname. In March 2009, the Toney's became plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), Gill v. Office of Personnel Management et al., challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from having to recognize legal state-sanctioned same-gender marriages. The Toney's section of the lawsuit resulted when Keith was subsequently denied a U.S. passport in his new married name after having provided their marriage license as acceptable proof of a legal name change.[9] In June 2009 the Toney's became the first successful challenge against DOMA when the Department of State effectively changed the law so that legal state-sanctioned same-gender marriage licenses would be accepted as proof of a legal name change.[10] This would later become the only successful challenge against DOMA before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on June 26, 2013 that the law was unconstitutional.[11]

Successful Challenge to MA State Pension Laws for Gay Retirees[edit]

Albert was also successful in challenging Massachusetts' pension laws when he raised the issue of retirees in same-sex marriages being excluded from being able to cover their spouses because same-sex marriage did not exist, nor was it foreseen, at the time of their retirement. Legislation was approved to allow retirees to change their pension retirement option to one that would pass their retirement benefits on to their spouses in the event of their own death.[12]

Publications[edit]

In 2012 the Toney's published a diversity and anti-bullying themed children's story book entitled, "Snions, Stiraffes and Frish...Hooray! Gonzo Finds Fairview Valley".[13] Their efforts of spreading the message of civility, kindness, equality and inclusion to young readers was covered by local news outlets.[14]

Notable Achievements[edit]

1. Featured in documentary by Filmmaker Henry Corra, "Same Sex America" - 2005

2. Appointed as co-vice-chair of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Advisory Board by Governor Deval Patrick on October 30, 2007

3. Only successful challenge against the US Government's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) before the law was declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS in June 2013 as a plaintiff in GLAD's lawsuit, Gill v. Office of Personal Management. The victory came in June 2009 when the Department of State changed their rules for state sanctioned same-sex marriage licenses being acceptable documentation for a legal name change on US passports.

4. Successfully challenged Massachusetts state pension laws so that gay retirees had a window of opportunity to change their pension option in order to protect their legally recognized same-gender spouses. - July 2012

5. Published diversity and inclusion and anti-bullying children's story book, Snions, Stiraffes and Frish...Hooray! Gonzo Finds Fairview Valley - April 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2 Arrested in murder at Ding Ho". Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Massachusetts. September 30, 1991. 
  2. ^ "Johnson Convicted, Gets Life". Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Massachusetts. July 30, 1992. 
  3. ^ "Anguish Opens Officers Eyes / Toney Will Work for Gay Rights". Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Massachusetts. August 16, 1992. 
  4. ^ "SJC overturns murder conviction". Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Massachusetts page B1. September 21, 2001. 
  5. ^ "Johnson guilty of murder". Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Massachusetts, page 1. April 1, 2003. 
  6. ^ "Same Sex America". Documentary. Corra Films. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Its Wrong to Vote on Rights: The Toneys". MassEquality. MassEquality. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  8. ^ "GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS TO THE Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination AND ADVISORY BOARD". Official Government Announcement. The Official Website of the Governor of Massachusetts. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "State of the Union Defining gay marriage for the feds". Slate. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Gay couples can use married names on passports". San Francisco Times. June 20, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Supreme Court DOMA Decision Rules Federal Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional". Huffington Post. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Gay couples face pension option deadline". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "A Family Affair - Massachusetts Power Couple Writes A Powerful Children's Book". Boston Spirit Magazine, page 9. July–August 2012. 
  14. ^ "Local couple's children's book addresses serious issue of bullying". NECN. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2013.