Marriage News Blog
Dozens of amici curiae, or “friends of the Court,” are filing briefs with the United States Supreme Court in support of AFER’s Plaintiffs challenging California’s Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry.
AFER’s attorneys argue that marriage equality is at the heart of our generation’s search for greater freedom and a basic American value, deeply rooted in our constitutional tradition.
The brief urges the Supreme Court to affirm the landmark federal court of appeals ruling that upheld the decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
Over 100 Prominent Republicans
This brief explains the harm inflicted on gay men and lesbians as a result of Proposition 8’s pernicious classification. Because Proposition 8 excludes them from marriage, gay men and lesbians and their families are stigmatized, deprived of benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, and exposed to increased discrimination. These effects are repugnant to the Constitution’s equality guarantee and are in no way mitigated by access to the separate and inherently inferior mechanism of domestic partnership. Proposition 8 fails rational basis because it creates classifications that serve only to disadvantage the burdened group. Additionally, Proposition 8 creates a two-tiered system of those whose relationships can be recognized as part of the revered institution of marriage and those that are forced into inherently inferior domestic partnerships. Read more about the brief >
Leaders of Religious and Faith Groups
The Faith Coalition demonstrates that a wide cross-section of American religious traditions recognize the dignity of lesbian and gay people and their relationships. For many religions, this includes celebrating and solemnizing the relationships and marriages of same-sex couples. The coalition shows that, recognizing the necessary distinction between civil and religious marriage, a growing number of faiths support civil marriage equality. Furthermore, amici argue that recognizing civil marriages of same-sex couples will not impinge upon religious beliefs, practices, or operations, but rather will prevent one set of religious beliefs from being imposed through civil law. Amici argue that even though they respect all fellow faiths, including those that embrace different religious views on marriage, it is constitutionally impermissible to impose religious views through civil law to curtail the right of same-sex couples to civilly marry.
In this brief 100 leading companies explain the numerous ways that their businesses, employees, clients and customers are negatively impacted by Proposition 8 and similar laws. The brief explains that Proposition 8 and similar laws are an affront to the amici’s commitment to fair and equal treatment because:
- They stigmatize same-sex couples;
- They enshrine discrimination into the law;
- They encourage additional discrimination and abuse of lesbian women, gay men, and same-sex couples; and
- They compel companies to send mixed signals about the treatment and respect of lesbian women, gay men, and same-sex couples.
The brief also argues Proposition 8 and similar laws impede efficient and productive business activity because:
- They strip from lesbians and gay men the many benefits of marriage, including increased productivity;
- They negatively impact businesses’ ability to recruit top talent; and
- They increase administrative costs by requiring the tracking of various relationship statuses.
NFL Players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo
“When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are, demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”
States with Marriage Equality: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, plus the District of Columbia
The brief argues that the States’ interests in marriage are all furthered by allowing same-sex couples to wed. These interests include: promoting the well-being of couples and their children, strengthening the legal and economic protections for families, and securing for the broader community the efficiency and stability created by marital households. Furthermore, amici argue that Proposition 8 is not rationally related to the Proponent’s asserted interests of procreation and child-rearing because:
- Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not further the well-being of children;
- Same-sex parents are as capable as different-sex parents of raising healthy, well-adjusted children; and
- Promoting responsible procreation does not justify restricting marriage to different-sex couples.
Additionally, amici address speculation about the erosion of marriage based on allowing same-sex couples to marry, and demonstrate that no such erosion will occur. Amici examine 1) marriage rates; 2) divorce rates; and 3) non-marital births, to demonstrate that in states where marriage by same-sex couples is permitted, the institution of marriage remains strong.
State of California
Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not further the interests identified by Proponents. To the contrary, amici declare that marriage equality best further California’s interests in ensuring a stable home for California’s children. Amici also argue initiative proponents lack standing to pursue appellate review.
Foreign and Comparative Law Experts Harold Hongju Koh, Sarah H. Cleveland, Laurence R. Helfer, and Ryan Goodman
International law scholars argue that legal developments in other nations—recognizing the rights of same-sex couples, based on liberty, dignity, and equality—confirm that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee favors marital equality over a separate-but-equal status. They note that
- Other nations that share our legal traditions provide a useful comparative perspective for constitutional interpretation;
- Foreign jurisdictions that have recognized equal marriage rights confirm that discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage impermissibly affronts fundamental notions of liberty, dignity and equality; and
- Foreign jurisdictions have successfully balanced equal marriage and religious freedom.
Southern Poverty Law Center
“The arguments advanced by supporters of Proposition 8 seem like echoes from the past. The warnings of social atrophy and moral decline and the invocation of religious prohibition are all eerily familiar.”
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), et al
This brief explains the harm inflicted on gay men and lesbians as a result of Proposition 8’s pernicious classification. Because Proposition 8 excludes them from marriage, gay men and lesbians and their families are stigmatized, deprived of benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts, and exposed to increased discrimination. These effects are repugnant to the Constitution’s equality guarantee and are in no way mitigated by access to the separate and inherently inferior mechanism of domestic partnership. Proposition 8 fails rational basis because it creates classifications that serve only to disadvantage the burdened group. Additionally, Proposition 8 creates a two-tiered system of those whose relationships can be recognized as part of the revered institution of marriage and those that are forced into inherently inferior domestic partnerships.
Family Equality Council, Emory Child Rights Project, COLAGE, Our Family Coalition, Center on Children and Families, and individual amici Sarah Gogin
Using the testimony of children raised in homes led by same-sex parents and testimony from LGBT youth about their personal experiences, Family Equality Council, et al. demonstrates that: 1) same-sex parented families are successfully and responsibly creating and nurturing the next generation; 2) contrary to their stated purpose of stabilizing families, both Proposition 8 and DOMA delegitimize the families of same-sex parents in the eyes of the law and society; and 3) both Proposition 8 and DOMA harm LGBT youth by teaching them that their government considers them, and any committed relationships they may form as adults, to be inherently inferior to those of their heterosexual peers.
Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (“PFLAG”)
Using the personal stories of parents of gay men and lesbians the brief explains how: 1) Proposition 8 dishonors gay men and lesbians; 2) domestic partnership is no substitute for marriage; and 3) the marriage of same-sex couples does not pose any risks to the marriages of opposite-sex couples.
Utah Pride Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality Federation and 25 State-wide Equality Organizations
Using Utah as a case study, this brief demonstrates that in many states, discrimination against gay men and lesbians occurs from the cradle to the grave. The brief gives examples of: 1) educational statutes that discriminate against gay people; 2) laws targeting the ability of high school students to have gay-straight alliances; 3) bans and restrictions on the ability of same-sex couples to adopt; and 4) bans on marriages between individuals of the same sex. Amici argue that heightened scrutiny is warranted because gay citizens lack the political power to prevent new discriminatory laws from being passed or to eradicate those that already exist. The brief concludes by asking the Court to guarantee equal protection under the law for all gay citizens, not just those that are fortunate to live in certain states.
“Too many laws throughout the United States say to gay Americans: You are not equal.”