As two lawyers ourselves, C and I have a special admiration for this Washington power couple. Gail, a graduate of the New York University School of Law, is the Director of the Office of Consumer protection at the National Credit Union Administration. She helped draft the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, an instrumental law regarding banking regulation. Donald, a graduate of Columbia Law School is the current Solicitor General of the United States. Donald famously argued before the Supreme Court in defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare). While Verrilli’s technical approach was criticized as boring by many in the mainstream media, he is credited with swaying Justice Roberts to the idea that the program was a tax.
But as accomplished as these two individuals are in the legal community, this site’s goal is to illustrate their relationship and marriage (or at least as much as we can decipher about this private couple). Both lawyers graduated undergraduate together from Yale University in 1979 and both attended New York Law Schools. I am not sure when they met exactly or when they formed a relationship, but they were married on August 27, 1988 and they have one daughter; Jordan Verrilli.
In an interview with NPR Verrilli admitted that both his and Gail’s parents were “worried that their interracial marriage might limit their professional opportunities” and they also “worried about the ability of (their) children to make a way in the world as children of an interracial couple.” Verrilli then stated in a matter of fact manner, “the thing is, you love who you love.”
After searching the internet, I could not find a picture this private couple in the same place. (perhaps they want their personal accomplishments to remain front and center). During Loving Week, however, it is important to remember how far race relations have come in this country over the last 50 years.
The Lovings had to be married in Washington D.C. in 1958 because they were forbidden from marrying in Virginia. Then in 1959, the couple pled guilty to the charge of miscegenation and had to flee the state of Virginia. Mildred Loving wrote to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy in 1964 for help and Kennedy contacted the ACLU, eventually leading to this landmark Supreme Court Opinion in 1965. It is remarkable that 50 years later, a black woman and her white partner are major political players in the same region. It is also remarkable that less than 50 years after Loving v. Virginia, both Verrilli and Laster have appeared before the Senate and the Supreme Court in a professional capacity only, without having to answer questions about their marriage.
NOTE: On June 12, 1967, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of Mildred and Richard Loving, for the charge of miscegenation. June 12 is often referred to as “Loving Day” in the United States. In honor of Loving Week, we are profiling Gail Laster and Donald Verrilli.