Civil rights groups request statewide ruling on same-sex marriage in federal court

7 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

#LoveCantWait: Democrats push SCOTUS on marriage equality.

Love can’t wait – at least not according to 167 members of the House and 44 members of the Senate who signed a “friend of the court” brief urging the Supreme Court to decide in favor of marriage equality for all couples. “Loving same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press statement. “Now is the time for the Supreme Court to affirm that every American has the right to marry the person they love.” In turn, Congressional Democrats began using the hashtag #LoveCantWait, a campaign started by the political lobbying organization Human Rights Campaign, to spread their support across social media. Civil rights groups in Alabama on Friday asked a federal judge to order all 68 of the state’s probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite an order from the Alabama Supreme Court blocking the licenses. The motion filed in Mobile includes Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The support comes in the form of briefs filed in advance of an April hearing on four cases asking that bans on same-sex marriage be declared unconstitutional. This broad range of support underscores that a once divisive issue is all but over in the minds of corporate leaders and even key strategists and politicians of a Republican party that has opposed same-sex marriage in its official platform. The administration’s brief completes a shift on the issue for Obama, who ran for president in 2008 as a supporter of civil unions for gay couples, but not marriage. The brief itself is nothing special; in rather plain terms, it explains why the equal protection clause and the due process clause require the government to treat gay people with “equal dignity.” But this brief isn’t really about substance. Unlike the suing couples, the Obama administration doesn’t make the case that the states lack any “rational basis” for restricting marriage to heterosexual unions.

Verrilli contended that laws discriminating against gays should be given “heightened scrutiny,” a standard the court has previously used to protect women and racial minorities. “A state should be required to present an especially strong justification for a law that excludes a long-disadvantaged class of persons from an institution of such paramount personal, societal and practical importance,” Verrilli argued. This time around, the effort seems more squarely aimed at Chief Justice John Roberts, whose wavering vote may be won over by the dozens of business luminaries who signed the brief.

The group includes billionaire energy executive David Koch, one of two brothers whose network of groups has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Republican candidates. They signed a brief alongside sports franchises that include the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants and the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots.

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