Good Briefs: Amicus Filings in the Supreme Court Marriage Equality Case

Ken AshfordConstitution, Gay Marriage, Supreme CourtLeave a Comment

Last Friday was the deadline to submit amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. Over 60 different briefs were filed by various “friends of the court,” including coalitions, organizations, scholars, and individuals. Contained within them are a variety of arguments in favor of recognizing same-sex couples’ right to marry, ranging from the more legal and technical to the more historical and personal.

And a few odd ones.  Here is one from the Cleveland Choral Arts Association, complete with West Side Story lyrics and everything (it really gets going at p. 29)

Cleveland Choral Arts Association Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

But there are obviously more serious ones that tackle the arguments made same-sex opposition.

Social conservatives still argue that because only different-sex couples can biologically produce children, only they should be allowed to marry.   But children actually present a compelling case for same-sex couples’ right to marry.  There are many amicus briefs to the court on this subject, from such organizations as the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voice for Adoption.  Here is an excellent “Voices of Children” brief, filed by the Family Equality Council and COLAGE — it highlights the tens of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples who have benefited or could benefit from their parents marrying.

Family Equality Council, et al., Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

And you know the argument rooted in “traditional” marriage?  And how we can’t go changing the definition of marriage?  Well, the American Historical Association has something to say about that.  Their brief outlines the many ways marriage has changed over time. “The historical record contradicts attempts to cast marriage as serving any single, overriding purpose,” the historians write. “And it contradicts attempts to present marriage as a static institution so rooted in ‘tradition’ as to insulate it from constitutional challenge.” To the contrary, they note, “marriage has remained a vital institution because it is not static.”

Historians of Marriage & American Historical Association Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

And finally, the religious liberty argument.  Conservatives attempt to justify marriage discrimination against LGBT people based on their religious beliefs.

But an amicus brief from a large coalition of religious organizations emphasizes that “civil recognition of same-sex relationships through lawful marriage is fundamentally consistent with the religious pluralism woven into the fabric of American law, culture, and society.” Many religious traditions now ordain gay and lesbian clergy, welcome same-sex couples and their families, and affirm the inherent dignity of LGBT people, including their right to marry someone of the same sex and have that union solemnized in faith. This, they point out, has no implications for those with different views, whose anti-gay religious beliefs and traditions will still be protected under the Constitution. Signers of that brief include leaders of the Episcopal Church, the UCC, various rabbinical associations and synagogues, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Muslims for Progressive Values, and LGBT groups from Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran denominations.

Episcopal Church, et al. Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

(HT: Equality Case Files.)