SANTA CRUZ -- The woman behind one of the country's most pivotal cases for gay rights will speak at UC Santa Cruz on March 7.
Karen Thompson, a Minnesota resident, went through a years-long legal battle that started in 1983 after her partner, Sharon Kowalski, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.
Thompson's talk at UCSC, called "Love Is A Dangerous Promise," will be held at the Second Stage Theater in the Performing Arts Center.
Kowalski's father, Donald Kowalski, won guardianship of his daughter, who was left with permanent physical disabilities that required she remain in a wheelchair. The accident left Sharon Kowalski with the mental capacity of a child.
Donald Kowalski cut off visitation from Thompson and moved his daughter to a new nursing home, which sparked years of legal fights between Thompson and the Kowalski family.
Thompson won the right to visit Sharon Kowalski again in 1989.
When Donald Kowalski's health started to decline in 1989, Thompson petitioned the court to become her partner's new guardian.
She eventually won guardianship in 1991 from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The Kowalski decision was viewed as a victory for gay rights by those who fear they too might be legally deprived of taking care of their partner.
Several books have been written about the case, including Thompson's book "Why Can't Sharon Kowalski Come Home?"
The high-profile case also highlighted the importance of durable power of attorney forms for homosexual couples wishing to name one another as guardians in similar situations.
Follow Sentinel reporter Shanna McCord on Twitter at Twitter.com/scnewsmom
IF YOU GO
Lecture by Karen Thompson
WHAT: Karen Thompson lecture 'Love Is A Dangerous Promise'
WHEN: 7 p.m. March 7
WHERE: Second Stage Theater, UC Santa Cruz
INFORMATION: Admission is free, 831-459-2698