Federal Court in Alabama Is Asked to Clear Way for Same-Sex Marriages
#LoveCantWait: Democrats push SCOTUS on marriage equality.
ATLANTA — Lawyers for gay and civil rights groups on Friday asked a federal court in Mobile, Ala., to force the state’s probate judges to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, three days after the Alabama Supreme Court ordered them to stop. President Obama’s winding path on same-sex marriage reached a major new milepost Friday when his administration told the Supreme Court that the Constitution does not allow states to prohibit gay couples from marrying. Supreme Court to rule that states cannot ban gay marriage. “These facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in the brief. Granade of United States District Court, could trigger the next salvo in a showdown between state and federal judiciaries over same-sex marriage in one of the nation’s most conservative states. After endorsing same-sex marriage nearly two decades ago, and then rejecting that idea eight years later, Obama has made expanding LGBT rights a hallmark of his domestic policy agenda.
In its ruling Tuesday, the Alabama high court ruled that state law “allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman.’’ It came after a 22-day period in which gay and lesbian people could marry in some localities. Casting it as the next chapter of the civil rights movement, the president has used language to reframe the public debate over sexual orientation and gender identity and his executive authority to expand federal benefits and protections for these Americans.
The four states defending their marriage restrictions have until March 27 to file their briefs, with friend-of-the-court briefs supporting their position due April 17. There are currently 37 states where gay marriage has been allowed to proceed, although a legal battle is ongoing in Alabama, with the state’s top court putting it on hold. Dozens of briefs backing gay marriage were filed ahead of Friday’s deadline, including one signed by corporations such as Google Inc, American Airlines Group Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Johnson & Johnson.
The Institute for Justice, a libertarian advocacy group best known for property-rights cases, filed one brief urging the court to strike down the bans, and dozens of prominent Republicans, including Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk , former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, joined a brief filed by Ken Mehlman , a former Republican National Committee chairman who is gay. John Danforth of Missouri, a mentor to Justice Clarence Thomas , and Jennifer Gratz, the plaintiff in a 2003 case that struck down an affirmative-action program at the University of Michigan. And the motion asks that all of the same-sex couples wishing to marry in Alabama be named in addition to the four couples who are currently named as plaintiffs.
Verrilli Jr. “There is similarly no reason to water down the otherwise appropriate level of scrutiny here.” The brief draws heavily on the court’s DOMA decision, U.S. v. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who has played a key role in shaping the administration’s approach to gay rights, said in an interview before the filing, “We fight discrimination in every way we can.” “We are delighted with the fact that when the president took office, same-sex marriage was legal in two states, and it is now legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” she said.
As an Illinois state senate candidate, he endorsed the idea in a 1996 questionnaire with an LGBT Chicago newspaper, a comment his aides later said was written by a campaign aide and not representative of his views. By December 2010, the president said his opinion on the matter was “constantly evolving,” and in May 2012, days after Vice President Biden surprised the White House by declaring that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, Obama publicly endorsed it as well. Most of the president’s allies had suspected for years that he backed the concept of same-sex marriage but was hesitant to embrace it in public for fear of losing support among African Americans. On a more practical level, the administration has expanded benefits and safeguards for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Regardless of where they live, legally married same-sex spouses are now recognized for most federal and military benefits and can receive health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Obama has appointed a record number of LGBT Americans to key senior administration posts, has nominated eight openly gay individuals to serve as U.S. ambassadors and has seated 11 openly-gay judges on the federal bench.
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