ROUND-UP: 13 groups that urged the Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8 or DOMA

It's been a busy week full of developments in the two marriage cases that the Supreme Court will consider at the end of this month. In each of the cases - Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the anti-gay Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stripped same-sex couples in California of the freedom to marry, and Windsor v. United States, which challenges DOMA, the 1996 law that federally prohibits respect for legal marriages between same-sex couples - marriage supporters have been filing amicus ("friend of the court") briefs asserting why marriage matters and why the Supreme Court should overturn Proposition 8 and DOMA.

Dozens of briefs have been filed in the past week, so here's a round-up of twelve diverse groups that spoke out for the freedom to marry through briefs in either the Windsor or Hollingworth cases. 

The Obama Administration

This week, President Obama and the Department of Justice filed briefs in both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, taking a stand for the freedom to marry and asserting that both laws must be overturned. In the Prop 8 case, the administration wrote, "Proposition 8, by depriving same-sex couples of the right to marry, denies them the 'dignity, respect, and stature' accorded similarly situated opposite-sex couples under state law. ... It thereby denies them equal protection under the law." In the DOMA case, the administration explained, "Section 3 of DOMA targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society. It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest." (FULL DOMA BRIEF and FULL PROP 8 BRIEF)


212 Democratic members of Congress filed a brief in Windsor v. United States, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the discriminatory law. The document, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, explains: "DOMA imposes a sweeping and unjustifiable federal disability on married same-sex couples. It is 'class legalization' that lacks any rational connection to legitimate federal interests, thus violating the Fifth Amendment's equal-protection guarantee." (FULL DOMA BRIEF

300 Businesses 

Hundreds of American companies have spoken out against the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 over the years, and many of those companies signed onto briefs opposing both anti-gay laws. Business leaders from Apple to Starbucks to Amazon added their names and weight to the briefs. In Proposition 8, the brief says, "Proposition 8 and similar laws inflict real and wholly unnecessary injury on business ... No matter how welcoming the corporate culture, it cannot overcome the societal stigma institutionalized by Proposition 8 and similar laws." The DOMA brief argues, "Our principles reflect, in the truest sense, our business judgment. By force of law, DOMA rescinds that judgment and directs that we renounce these principles or, worse yet, betray them." (FULL DOMA BRIEF and FULL PROP 8 BRIEF)

LGBT Organizations  

Dozens of organizations advocating for gay and lesbian people, same-sex couples, and their families have filed documents urging the Supreme Court to be on the right side of history this year. From Campaign for Southern Equality to the Utah Pride Center and the Equality Federation, these organizations champion the idea that same-sex couples across the country should be able to enjoy the freedom to marry the person they love. The brief details, "The Constitution demands that all gay people - and not merely those fortunate to live in certain states - are entitled to the blessings of liberty and the promise of equal treatment under the law." PFLAG and Courage Campaign also filed briefs. (FULL DOMA/PROP 8 BRIEF)

100+ Republican Leaders

The signers of this brief led by former chair of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, include several top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors, and two members of Congress, the first Republicans to sponsor legislation that would repeal DOMA. Other prominent signers include former Republican presidential candidate and Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who penned an editorial last week in support of marriage; Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for governor of California; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio. They argue that "marriage promotes the conservative values of stability, mutual support, and mutual obligation." (FULL PROP 8 BRIEF

15 Attorneys General 

The attorneys general from 14 U.S. jurisdictions - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - explained in one joint brief that "civil marriage has long advanced many important state interests" and that these states each have laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, education, and in many cases, marriage. The State of California authored thier own brief, arguing, "Proposition 8 serves no interest recognized by California as legitimate." (FULL PROP 8 BRIEF FOR 14 AGS and FULL PROP 8 BRIEF FOR CA)

Religious Organizations and Leaders

Dozens of religious leaders signed onto a brief led by the Bishops of the Episcopal Church in many different states. The brief argues, "A wide cross-section of American religious traditions recognizes the dignity of lesbian and gay people and their relationships," and that "recognizing the necessary distinction between civil and religious marriage, a growing number of faiths support civil marriage equality." (FULL DOMA BRIEF

Civil Rights Organizations

A number of Latino civil rights groups - including the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the League of Latin American Citizens - signed onto a brief in both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases explaining that the marriage cases have particular implications for Latinos, including the issue of binational same-sex couples who are often separated because DOMA does not respect legal marriages between same-sex couples and thus prohibits gay and lesbian Americans from sponsoring non-American spouses for immigration. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund also filed a brief in Windsor, explaining that "an essential function of equal protection law is to guard against government action that subordinates historically marginalized groups." (FULL DOMA/PROP 8 BRIEF FROM LATINO ORGS and FULL DOMA BRIEF FROM NAACP)

Mental Health Organizations 

The American Psycoholigcal Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and others signed onto a brief in the Windsor case asserting that there is no scientific basis for concluding that same-sex couples are less fit or capable parents than heterosexual parents, or that their children are less psychologically healthy. The American Sociological Association agreed in a separate brief, explaining that "scholarly consensus is clear: Children of same-sex parents fare just as well as children of opposite-sex parents." (FULL DOMA BRIEF by APA, and FULL DOMA BRIEF BY ASA

LGBT Military Organizations

OutServe-SLDN advocates against DOMA on behalf of military families and gay and lesbian service members. The brief explains, "In the military context, the denial of equal benefits for equal service and equal sacrifice is more than a fairness issue. The military consistently has emphasized that providing benefits to military spouses improves morale and is critical to national security." OutServe-SLDN outlines many of the arguments it has made over the course of the past year through Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, the joint campaign that Freedom to Marry worked on with the military organization. (FULL DOMA BRIEF)  

Constitutional Law Scholars 

A coalition of scholars signed onto a joint brief in the Perry and Windsor cases arguing that the Constitution requires heightened judicial scrutiny of laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian people, including the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. The brief outlines a four-factor test for scrutiny and explains that these laws should certainly be held to heightened scrutiny. (FULL DOMA/PROP 8 BRIEF)

Family Organizations

A wide range of child welfare and family health organizations - from the Family Equality Council to GLSEN to the Child Rights Project - signed onto a brief arguing for the freedom to marry on behalf of the children of same-sex couples. The brief details, "The voices of children raised by same-sex parents - those who live every day within the family structure at the heart of these lawsuits - are too often unheard in the debates about same-sex couples and marriage. Their stories are too often missing from discussions of 'traditional' families or 'family values,' and their personal experiences too often discounted as irrelevent." (FULL PROP 8/DOMA BRIEF) Photo of Beth Allen and Val Frey from Maine

NFL Players

Athletes are also lending their famous names and faces to the Supreme Court marriage cases. NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo, who have been outspoken advocates for the freedom to marry, filed a brief in the Prop 8 case last week, writing, "We believe and advocate that, just as athletes should be judged, not by their sexual orientation, but by their performance and the way they treat their teammates, so too should people be judged as citizens by how they act and treat others, and not what they inherently are." (FULL PROP 8 BRIEF