Lawrence Kestenbaum
Born (1955-09-13) September 13, 1955 (age 66)
Known forThe Political Graveyard
TitleWashtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds
Term2004 - Present
Political partyDemocratic
WebsiteKestenbaum's personal website

Lawrence Kestenbaum (born September 13, 1955) is an attorney, politician, and the creator and webmaster of The Political Graveyard website.[1][2]

Early life and education

Although he was born in Chicago, Illinois, Kestenbaum was raised in East Lansing, Michigan, where his father, Justin L. Kestenbaum, was a professor of history at Michigan State University.[3]

In 1973, he graduated from East Lansing High School. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Michigan State University, followed by a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University in 1982.[3] He later studied historic preservation at Cornell University.[3]

Academic career

Kestenbaum was an analyst and computer lab director for Michigan State University, later becoming an academic specialist there.[3] It was during this time that he created The Political Graveyard in 1996.[2] He was later on staff at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research (ISR) Survey Research Center, and has taught historic preservation law at Eastern Michigan University.[3]

Political career

Kestenbaum is a Democrat. He served as a county commissioner in Ingham County, Michigan (1983–88) and Washtenaw County, Michigan (2000–02).[3][4] In 2004, he was elected as the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register of Deeds,[2][3][4][5] the first Democrat in that position in 72 years. He was unopposed for reelection in 2008,[3][4] reelected in 2012, unopposed in 2016, and reelected in 2020.

Kestenbaum currently serves as co-chair of the Legislative Committee for the Michigan Association of County Clerks.[6]

On March 22, 2014, following a U.S. District Court ruling that Michigan's ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional,[7] Kestenbaum was one of four Michigan county clerks to open for special hours while the ruling was in effect;[8] his office issued marriage licenses to 74 gay and lesbian couples.[9] His office also provided fresh same-day same-sex marriage licenses within minutes of the US Supreme Court Obergefell ruling.[10]

Personal life

Kestenbaum was married to Janice Gutfreund, and they have one child.[3] He and his former wife were active members in Reform Judaism Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He continues to be an active member of science fiction fandom, appearing on panels at conventions such as ConFusion.


  1. ^ Leibovich, Mark (2006-10-01). "Hitting a Self-Destruct Button". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
  2. ^ a b c Hagadone, Zach (November 2, 2016). "The Political Graveyard". Boise Weekly. p. 30. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Silberman, Eve (October 2008). "County clerk Larry Kestenbaum". Ann Arbor Observer. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Biolchini, Amy (October 9, 2012). "No-show at candidate forum gives Washtenaw County clerk chance to reflect". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  5. ^ "Washtenaw County Government, Clerk/Register of Deeds". Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  6. ^ "Larry Kestenbaum, The Washtenaw County Clerk". Rotary Club of Ann Arbor North. January 16, 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  7. ^ Baldas, Tresa; Anderson, Elisha; Laitner, Bill (March 21, 2014). "Judge strikes down Michigan ban on gay marriage; state asks for a stay". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  8. ^ Jones, Will (March 22, 2014). "Washtenaw County office to process same-sex marriage licenses Saturday". WDIV-TV. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  9. ^ Biolchini, Amy (March 22, 2014). "Clerk grants marriage licenses to 74 gay couples in Washtenaw County". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  10. ^ Chambers, Jennifer (June 26, 2015). "Washtenaw County couple wanted to be part of history". The Detroit News. Retrieved December 23, 2020.