MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an icon, an advocate, and a trailblazer whose work touched so many lives in different ways.

Minnesota couple Tom Pack and Matt Mansh married in San Francisco three years ago – two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

Pack, a lawyer himself, thinks Ginsburg’s own obstacles as a woman in law made her realize the plight of others.

“She always knew what it was like and was able to overcome those barriers in her own life and was an inspiration for everyone else to do that too,” he said.

“I feel like I knew her, I feel like she was my sister and I think many women in this country feel that way,” said Sarah Stoesz, President of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota Action Fund.

For Stoesz, Ginsburg’s work to champion reproductive rights is iconic and impactful.

“My life today is different than it was when I was 22  – much different because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because of the road that she built,” Stoesz said.

“As the child of immigrants, as a woman, as a mother of daughters and as a lawyer, I’m really just so sad to lose Justice Ginsburg,” said Veena Iyer, the Executive Director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

She credits Ginsburg for helping to stop indefinite detentions and overturn the end to the DACA program, which impacts 5,000 Minnesotans.

“I think there are so many folks who are scared because who knows what’s going to happen,” Iyer said.

While they mourn her loss, they also fear her absence for the future and how it could impact the right to have an abortion, or for the couple’s right to marry.

“We have had this right since 1973 and it is now very truly and realistically at risk,” Stoesz said.

“To be reminded in a news alert on my phone that certain rights we have are still in peril and are not solidified in which we can count on them, it was super scary,” Pack said.

The fear highlights the true impact one woman had on America itself.

St. Thomas Law professor Thomas Berg also says he thinks it’s unlikely the Supreme Court would overturn same-sex marriage, though it is not protected in Minnesota by the legislature.

Berg does think issues such as Roe v. Wade and immigration are more uncertain, depending on who is appointed in Ginsburg’s place.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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