Stephen Dunne, 30, filed a civil suit in Boston’s U.S, District Court claiming that an essay question was inappropriate and improperly required an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Because he refused to answer the question, he scored 269 points on the exam, one point short of the passing grade of 270.
The hypothetical question at issue involved the rights of two lawyers, Mary and Jane, whose marriage to each other two years ago had ended after Jane “got drunk and hit Mary with a baseball bat, breaking Mary’s leg, when she learned that Mary was having an affair with Lisa.”
Dunne, who has spoken only with the Boston Herald about his lawsuit, has since kept reporters at a distance despite media requests from around the country. He has, however, created a website, ChristianLawsuit.com, in which he says that he is an Irish immigrant with strong Christian values who came to the U.S. on July 4, 1988.
He later graduated from Pennsylvania State University and gained citizenship through six years of duty in the U.S. Army National Guard.
After completing a three year program at New England School of Law in the spring of 2007, Dunne took the bar exam. In his complaint, Dunne says that his failing grade was a punishment from Massachusetts officials “based strictly on (my) refusal to support and promote homosexual marriage and parenting.”
Dunne had initially sought $9.75 million in damages but recently amended that amount to $9.75 to demonstrate that the issue is one of principle and not of money.
In addition to seeking the removal of the question from the exam, Dunne is also challenging the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts became the only state in the U.S. to legally permit same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004, following a declaration in November 2003 by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court that the prohibition of such marriages violated the state’s constitution.
In December, 2005, 170,000 Massachusetts residents filed a petition to put the marriage issue on the ballot.
That initiative was stopped this past June after Governor Deval Patrick and top lawmakers successfully lobbied other legislators to switch their votes and kill the proposal.
In his complaint, Dunne writes that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has tyrannically usurped the power of the legislature, “thereby diminishing the rule of law and democracy.”