Abby Rubenfeld Biography
Abby Rubenfeld is an American civil rights attorney who practices in Nashville, Tennessee. She is also the sister of actor Paul Reubens, best known for playing and creating the Pee-wee Herman character.
Abby Rubenfeld Age
Rubenfeld was born in 1953 in Oneonta, New York. She is 70 years old as of 2023.
Abby Rubenfeld Parents
Rubenfeld is the daughter of Milton Rubenfeld and Judy Rubenfeld. Her father was a former World War II pilot who flew for the Royal Air Force and the Israeli Air Force. He later became an automobile salesman and a founder of the Sarasota Jewish Theater. Her mother was a teacher who taught English and drama at Sarasota High School.
They moved to Sarasota, Florida, when Rubenfeld was a child and exposed her to theater and social justice issues. They also faced discrimination for being Jewish, which influenced Rubenfeld’s passion for civil rights. Her parents died in 2004 and 2010, respectively.
Abby Rubenfeld Paul Reubens
Rubenfeld is the sister of Paul Reubens (born Paul Rubenfeld), who died on July 31, 2023, at the age of 70 after battling cancer for years. He was an actor, comedian, writer, and producer who created the iconic character Pee-wee Herman in 1978 while performing with the Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings.
Paul starred in several movies and TV shows featuring Pee-wee Herman, such as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1990), and Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016). He also appeared in other films and shows, such as Batman Returns, Mystery Men, Blow, Reno 911! , and Gotham . Paul was nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work as Pee-wee Herman. He was also known for his philanthropic work with children’s charities, such as the Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Abby Rubenfeld Spouse
Rubenfeld is married to a woman and has two daughters and a stepdaughter. She met her wife in 2004 when they were both working on a case involving a lesbian couple who wanted to adopt a child in Tennessee. They married in Massachusetts in 2008 and later became plaintiffs in the lawsuit that challenged Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Abby Rubenfeld Kids
Rubenfeld has two daughters from a previous relationship with another woman, who co-parented them until they separated in 2000. Rubenfeld’s ex-partner then moved to Florida with the children and denied Rubenfeld visitation rights.
Rubenfeld sued for custody but lost because Tennessee did not recognize their relationship or parental rights. She appealed the decision, but the case was dismissed after her ex-partner died in 2003. Rubenfeld then regained custody of her daughters, who were 11 and 13 at the time. She also has a stepdaughter from her wife’s previous marriage.
Abby Rubenfeld Nashville
Rubenfeld moved to Nashville in 1986, after working as an attorney and legal director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., a national organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT+ people. She opened her own law firm, specializing in family law, civil rights, and LGBT+ issues. She has been involved in many landmark cases, such as challenging Tennessee’s “Homosexual Practices Acts” law, which criminalized sodomy; representing a transgender woman who was fired from her job; and defending a gay couple who were denied a marriage license by a county clerk.
Abby Rubenfeld Attorney
Rubenfeld graduated from Princeton University with honors in 1975, where she was class president. She then earned her J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1979, where she helped create the Boston University Law Association. She was admitted to practice law in 1979 and has been recognized as one of the best lawyers in America by various publications.
Rubenfeld has also been an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Law School and chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities section of the American Bar Association. She has served as a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Human Rights Campaign.
Abby Rubenfeld Supreme Court
Rubenfeld was one of the lead attorneys who filed the lawsuit that challenged Tennessee’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor.
The lawsuit represented four same-sex couples who were either married out-of-state or wanted to marry in Tennessee. The case was consolidated with similar cases from Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio, and became known as Obergefell v. Hodges. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all 50 states, making Rubenfeld’s clients among the first to legally wed in Tennessee. Rubenfeld called the ruling “a great day for love.”