San Francisco/Washington DC • March 2015 - Today, Marriage Equality USA announces that it has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the freedom to marry nationwide and full equality under the Constitution for LGBTQ people. The brief, together with all the other briefs supporters of equality have filed, present an irrefutable case for equality to the Supreme Court in the landmark lawsuits the Court will decide this year.
The brief’s lead author, John Lewis, MEUSA’s Legal and Policy Director stated: “Empowering LGBTQ people to tell their own stories and to advocate in their own voices has always been a central mission of Marriage Equality USA. In our Supreme Court brief, LGBTQ couples across the country, from Florida to Iowa to Oregon, reveal how discrimination has harmed them and how equality has brought them personal dignity and legal protections that they had never had before. Their voices attest to the transformative power of legal equality in people’s lives.”
Voices in the brief include:
* An LGBTQ couple in their 90s, who for 70 years told no one of their relationship until they decided to marry.
* A young LGBTQ couple, raising four children, who had been unable to live together as a family because of their home state’s law that excludes same-sex couples from marrying. Marriage equality coming to their state meant that they could finally live together as a family.
* An LGBTQ couple who married in California where they made their home for years, but when the Great Recession hit needed to move to live with family in a state without equality. In the process, they lost not just their jobs and their home – they lost full recognition and respect for their marriage. They look to the Supreme Court for a nationwide decision that restores their equality.
A central theme of the brief is that Americans’ right to marry and to have their government accord them the highest respect and recognition for their relationship should derive inherently from their humanity and not the particularities of their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
The brief also stresses the importance of marriage equality being a federal constitutional right, enforceable in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. As the brief states: “We are not just citizens of the state in which we live; we are Americans.”
The brief also describes how LGBTQ Americans experience a new found sense of dignity as LGBTQ Americans when they gain the freedom to marry. But that sense of dignity is incomplete unless LGBTQ people receive the same measure of respect in every way in which they interact with the government.
Brian Silva, MEUSA’s Executive Director, stated: “Marriage Equality USA is the nation’s oldest existing organization dedicated solely to attaining marriage equality. Nearly two decades of work alongside many other LGBTQ organizations, individuals, and allies has led to this moment. Thirty-seven states now have marriage equality. We stand poised for the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that marriage equality is the law nationwide. As we look to the Court to do so, we also look to the Justices to establish once and for all that the Constitution protects LGBTQ people from governmental discrimination in all aspects of their lives.”
The Supreme Court will hold oral arguments in the marriage equality cases on April 28, with a decision expected by the end of June. The decision will likely come the same week that major cities across the country will hold annual LGBTQ Pride Celebrations, marking the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that are credited with being the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
Legal & Policy Director