Over 100 first responders urge AR Supreme Court to rule for the freedom to marry
October 10, 2014
This week, more than 100 emergency medical workers, police officers, and firefighters came together to file an amicus brief in Smith v. Wright, the legal challenge to Arkansas’ constitutional amendment denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. The case is currently pending before the Arkansas Supreme Court. The “friend-of-the-court” brief outlines the urgency and importance of ending the exclusion of committed couples from marriage in Arkansas. The brief was coordinated by Arent Fox LLP and the Smith v. Wright legal team, with support from Freedom to Marry.
Among the signers were Police Officer Pam Boese and her wife, a corrections officer named Rebecca Melear. They married right after Judge Chris Piazza struck down the state's ban on marriage between same-sex couples, before the ruling was put on hold pending appeal. The couple desperately want to start a family, but want to have their marriage legally respected first. Rebecca explained:
"We both have seen personally or first hand the detriment to young people who didn't have great parenting or poor home lives. We want to better our community, not only through our jobs that we love, but also through raising children to become part of that."
The brief underscores how these workers put their lives on the line and are still kept from marrying their true loves:
"Gay and lesbian law enforcement officers and other first responders put on their uniforms, place themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend our communities, and swear to uphold our laws without prejudice or bias. They serve our communities with equal distinction, skill, and bravery. But Arkansas denies these men and women the equal dignity and respect they deserve. Arkansas does not treat them equally in their day-to-day work, nor, tragically, even when they make the ultimate sacrifice. Amici submit this brief, therefore, to explain why basic human dignity – enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection – requires the rulings of the court below to be affirmed."
Read more about marriage litigation in Arkansas here.
Read the full brief here.