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Oakland family law practitioner Marian Chapman, a renowned advocate for lesbian and gay parents, died Friday of a heart attack. She was 58. Chapman was a member of the first board for the Lesbian Rights Project, the predecessor of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and she was a co-founder of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom. Chapman, who practiced primarily in the East Bay, was also active in Women Lawyers of Alameda County and California Women Lawyers. “She was kind of a driving force in the Bay Area in promoting the rights of lesbian and gay parents,” said San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens. “She was a leading light” in the family law arena, said Alameda County PJ Barbara Miller, who considered Chapman a mentor and friend. Chapman received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from UC-Berkeley and graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1976, said retired East Bay criminal defense attorney Penelope Cooper, a friend. She worked for about 15 years at the civil firm Wald Freedman Chapman & Bendes in Oakland, said one of her former law partners, Robert Freedman, now the assistant PJ of Alameda County Superior Court. He remembers his friend as generous and “perhaps the most direct and intellectually honest person you could ever meet.” If Chapman thought a client was seeking an unethical or illegal result, she would try to persuade the client to do the right thing, or she would give up the case, Freedman said. In the 1990s, Chapman moved to solo practice, and in recent years had begun to focus more on mediation than litigation, Cooper said. Colleagues recalled that Chapman handled one of the first second-parent adoption cases for a lesbian couple in Alameda County, about 15 years ago. The adoptive mother, San Francisco family law solo Sandra Blair, praised Chapman’s work. “She’s going to be a tremendous, tremendous loss to the legal community, and to the lesbian legal community.” Chapman is survived by her partner of 25 years, Oakland civil litigator Sandra Springs; her father, Daniel Chapman of Los Angeles; a sister, Willa Chapman of Half Moon Bay; and a brother, Robert Chapman of Los Angeles. Public viewings are scheduled for 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

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