The offer to me was straightforward: talk with Roe v. Wade attorney Linda Coffee about her case archive, which will be up for auction in Los Angeles on Friday. (Bidding for the collection, which includes nearly 150 documents, letters, and artifacts, starts at $50,000.)
The prospect was strangely emotional. Until I read Joshua Prager’s 2021 book, The Family Roe, I did not understand the extent to which the lawsuit’s many players were tied to Dallas. Nor did I understand how many of them were, like me, gay. All I knew was that the case had impacted my life as a woman in America — and as a lawyer and as a woman who was able to finally marry her longtime partner in 2013 — in innumerable ways.
The resulting interview? Downright entertaining.
When I talked with Coffee and her partner, Rebecca Hartt, on the phone yesterday, the two continually finished each other’s sentences and talked over one another, as long-term couples are wont to do. It was heart-warming. And also a little bit shame-inducing, as they clearly view it as the obligation of the “younger generation” (they couldn’t see my white hair over the phone) to take up the now fragmented 50-state battle over privacy and equal protection rights.
But before we got to chatting, because it was such a pretty day both in Dallas and at their home in Mineola, they suggested that I go out for a picnic, or at least for some barbecue. The conversation that followed has been edited for length and clarity.