Supreme Court nearing more Gay Briefs than Andrew Christian

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As the date for the mother-of-all marriage equality showdowns draws closer, there’s been a flurry of “friend of the court” briefs filed this week.

Those wishing to be seen as standing on the right side of history when it comes to asking the court to overturn California’s Prop 8 and DOMA, include over 60 major corporations, including Apple, Facebook and Morgan Stanley, the thirteen states that now offer marriage equality, including Washington and Oregon, PFLAG and the Utah Pride Center.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports, Utah Pride’s “…filing comes amid recent declarations of support for same-sex marriage from more than two dozen prominent Republicans, such as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Last month, the LDS Church and other evangelical churches and groups submitted their legal arguments for traditional marriage.”

“The brief from the center — a nonprofit based in Salt Lake City to serve Utah’s LGBT community — also addresses LGBT service members coming to the Beehive State,” reports the paper.

President Obama, who has already given his support for an overturn of DOMA is also weighing in on Prop 8, “The Obama administration will throw its support behind a broad claim for marriage equality, urging the Supreme Court to rule that voters in California were not entitled to ban same-sex marriage there,”  reported the New York Times on Wednesday.

NFL players the Vikings’ Chris Kluwe and the Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo have also filed a joint brief.  According to the HRC,”The brief argues the importance of professional athletes – along with other traditionally “hidebound field like rap and R &B” — to stand on the right side of history as role models for American youth.”

“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,” Kluwe and Ayanbadejo write.

The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is a direct challenge to California’s discriminatory Prop 8 law forbidding same-sex marriages. It was filed on behalf of two couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in May 2009. Last February, the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 26th.

The second case, United States v. Windsor, challenges the federal government’s denial of benefits to legally married gay and lesbian couples under a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

According to the Kent College of Law, “The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law, the words “marriage” and “spouse” refer to legal unions between one man and one woman. Since that time, some states have authorized same-sex marriage. In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the rationale.”

Scotusblog reports that the judges will be deciding,”(1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State; (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.”

They’ll hear that case on March 27th.

The Justices will question lawyers for each side at hearings scheduled to last an hour each.

LGBT groups across the country are planning marches, or similar actions, during the pivotal week to show their support. (Click HERE to learn more.)

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President to Supreme Court: Strike Down DOMA!

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After some speculation over whether or not President Obama would address the upcoming Supreme Court showdown over the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, the administration has filed a historic brief arguing that the law is, indeed, unconstitutional.

“Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says that Section 3 of DOMA, which defines “spouse” and “marriage” under federal law as only those marriages between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reported  Friday, moments after the brief had been filed.

According to NPR, “The brief formally asks the court to declare unconstitutional a specific part of DOMA called Section 3. That’s the part that bars recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of federal benefits such as income taxes or federal employee benefits. The brief points out that there are more than 1,000 federal statues and programs that come into play depending on a person’s marital status.”

As for leaving the matter of same-gender marriage up to voters,”The Obama administration’s brief disputes that position, stating several reasons why letting voters decide on the legal status of same-sex marriage is inappropriate. It sites the long history of discrimination gays and lesbians have faced; that sexual orientation bears no relation to the ability to contribute to society; and that sexual orientation is a core part of identity with broad scientific evidence that it is not a voluntary choice,” the radio network says.

Geidner goes on to report,”in addition to Friday’s administration brief on the constitutional merits of DOMA, the administration, BLAG and Windsor’s lawyers all filed briefs Friday regarding jurisdictional questions about whether the Department of Justice’s decision not to defend Section 3 of DOMA means that the court has no controversy to resolve and whether BLAG has the constitutional authority to be a party to the case.”

The court is set to hear the case on March 27th, a day after it hears arguments in the Prop 8 case.

Click HERE to read the full historic brief.

New Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose DOMA

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According to a recent survey conducted by The Center for American Progress, 53 percent of Americans support the repeal of the discriminatory so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

The poll shows an even greater majority of Americans no longer supporting section 3 of the act, which unfairly denies legally married same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as their straight counterparts.

According to the poll, 59 percent of Americans oppose section 3. Only 34 percent say they still support same-sex couple discrimination.

Race wise, the poll shows Blacks and Hispanics leading the way when it comes to opposing section 3. The poll says an overwhelming 65 percent of Black Americans surveyed oppose section 3, followed by 61 percent of Hispanic Americans. 57 percent of white Americans say they also oppose the measure.

A whopping 62 percent of all Americans surveyed say they believe DOMA is discrimination. Only 34 percent of Americans believe the  act is fair.

The nation’s highest court  will hear two days worth of oral arguments in cases challenging DOMA,  as well as California’s Prop 8 measure, next month.

The arguments are set for March 26th and 27th.

Click HERE to see the full survey.

Mormon-Owned Marriott joins DOMA repeal effort

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Marriott International Inc. has joined a coalition of companies calling for the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

According to the L.A. Times,”David Rodriguez, an executive vice president at Marriott and its chief human resources officer, was quoted by the HRC as saying, “We are proud of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal treatment of all our employees within our benefits programs. Joining the business coalition for DOMA repeal affirms that commitment.”

The company’s support for the repeal may or may not raise eyebrows depending on the circles you swim in. On one hand current CEO Bill Marriott as well as several other controlling parties are devout members of the LDS church. On the other hand, “Marriott has explained that he personally believed that marriage was between a man and a woman. But he said he does not mix his views on the subject with operation of the business.”

“We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else,” Bill Marriott told the Business Insider last year .”We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect.”

According to the HRC,”The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law.  This law discriminates in two important ways.  First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples.  Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. ”

The Times article goes on to point out that,”The official stance of the Mormon church is against gay marriage, and Mormons poured a lot of money and other resources into backing Proposition 8, the 2008 California measure that banned gay marriages in the state.”

Interestingly, according to The Christian Post, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney rejoined the board of directors of Marriott International in December. “Marriott International, known as the Marriott Corporation until 1993, was founded in 1927 by John Willard Marriott, a close friend of Romney’s father,” the Post reports.

Click HERE to learn more about the coalition.

Showdown: Supreme Court Sets Dates for Marriage Equality Cases

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The nation’s highest court has announced that it will hear two days worth of oral arguments in two separate cases that challenge anti-marriage equality laws. Both cases could make sweeping impacts on marriage laws in all fifty states.

The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is a direct challenge to California’s discriminatory Prop 8 law forbidding same-sex marriages. It was filed on behalf of two couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies in May 2009. Last February, the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 ruling declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on March 26th.

The second case, United States v. Windsor, challenges the federal government’s denial of benefits to legally married gay and lesbian couples under a law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

According to the Kent College of Law, “The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law, the words “marriage” and “spouse” refer to legal unions between one man and one woman. Since that time, some states have authorized same-sex marriage. In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the rationale.”

Scotusblog reports that the judges will be deciding,”(1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their State; (2) whether the Executive Branch’s agreement with the court below that DOMA is unconstitutional deprives this Court of jurisdiction to decide this case; and (3) whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives has Article III standing in this case.”

The Justices will question lawyers for each side at hearings scheduled to last an hour each.

Look for high court rulings, on both cases, sometime before the end of June.

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