More than 200 Democratic members of Congress sign marriage brief to SCOTUS
March 09, 2015
On Friday, March 6, more than 200 Democratic elected officials, 167 House Representatives and 44 United States Senators, signed onto an amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court urging the Justices to rule in favor of the freedom to marry this summer.
The brief argued that the freedom to marry would benefit the signers' constituents:
These bans impair family stability and mobility and harm children, an estimated 220,000 of whom are being raised by same-sex couples. See Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. While Respondents argue that the state bans somehow encourage family stability, denying same-sex couples and their children the vast array of rights and responsibilities that fl ow from marriage under state and federal law has the opposite effect.
As federal legislators who represent families across this nation, we believe that—like DOMA—state marriage bans deny our citizens the equal protection that the Constitution guarantees. We urge the Court to make the Constitution’s promise of equality a reality for gay and lesbian couples throughout the nation and reverse the judgments below.
The signers include House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, lead sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act Rep. Jerald Nadler and Senator Dianne Feinstein, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Senate Assistant Leader Richard J. Durbin, House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chair Charles E. Schumer, Senate Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray, House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, and House LGBT Caucus Co-Chairs Jared Polis, David N. Cicilline, Sean Patrick Maloney, Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema, and Mark Takano.
Many of the signers of this brief were also signers of the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal the entirety of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The bill was reintroduced on January 6, 2015, and would ensure that the federal government respects all valid marriages across every single federal agency. The bill has 43 cosponsors in the Senate and 78 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Read more about the Respect for Marriage Act here.
On Friday, Senator Feinstein stressed the importance of marriage in the equality of the United States:
Although the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled that a key portion of DOMA was unconstitutional, state bans on the marriages of same-sex couples still prevent equality under the law. With a favorable ruling, the Supreme Court could ensure once-and-for-all that legal marriage is available to loving, committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation. This would be a huge step toward equality in our nation.
Congressman Nadler underscored the harms that same-sex couples face when they are banned from marriage:
State marriage bans apply across the board, limiting the right to marry and stay married when crossing state lines and preventing same-sex couples and their children from qualifying for a vast array of marriage-based state and federal rights and responsibilities. These laws impose countless burdens and indignities on gay and lesbian couples and their children. And they serve no legitimate governmental purpose. We firmly believe that everyone should enjoy the same right to marry the person that they love and urge the Court to make the Constitution’s promise of equality a reality for gay and lesbian couples throughout the nation.
On January 16, the United States Supreme Court announced that this year, they will hear arguments in a case on the question of whether same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry and if anti-marriage laws nationwide should be struck down as unconstitutional. The Court granted review of an out-of-step ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which ruled in November against the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. In each of these cases, federal judges had ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for all, and the 6th Circuit reversed each decision.
Oral arguments in this case will be heard on April 28.
Read the full brief here. And read about the dozens of other briefs filed to the U.S. Supreme Court here.