Attorney General Gansler Supports Supreme Court Challenges to California's Same-Sex Marriage Ban and Federal Defense of Marriage Act
Amicus briefs argue for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples
Baltimore, MD ( Feb. 28, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state and federal laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. Attorney General Gansler announced today that Maryland supports constitutional challenges to both California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Maryland will take part in filing two amicus curiae briefs - one of which will be filed with the Supreme Court today and the other is expected to be filed tomorrow.
"Marylanders have voted to eliminate discrimination in marriage and yet same-sex couples still face unequal treatment, especially when it comes to federal tax laws," said Attorney General Gansler. "Both cases before the Supreme Court address the principle that same-sex couples deserve equal protection under the law."
Attorney General Gansler filed the friend-of-the-court brief opposing Proposition 8 today with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and 11 other states and the District of Columbia, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Attorney General of California filed a separate brief in support of equal marriage rights.
In the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry (12-144), the attorneys general argue that California's Proposition 8 ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Proposition 8 amended the California state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. California voters approved the measure by ballot initiative in November 2008 after a California Supreme Court decision granted same-sex couples the right to marry.
Attorney General Gansler, along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts New Hampshire, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, will file a separate amicus brief tomorrow challenging the constitutionality of DOMA - the federal ban on same-sex marriage - in the case of United States v. Windsor.
The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in both cases to be heard in late March.
The brief filed today in Hollingsworth v. Perry highlights the experience of many states that have ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. Citing data on marriage rates, divorce rates and percentages of out-of-wedlock births, the brief refutes the supposed negative effects of allowing same-sex couples to marry that are proffered by the proponents of Proposition 8. The brief also argues that the measure actually harms families by denying the multitude of legal and social benefits of marriage to same-sex couples and their children.
"Proposition 8 deprives the children of same-sex couples of the benefits of being raised in a secure, protected family unit with two married parents," the brief argues. "In doing so, it works against the states' efforts to 'strengthen the modern family in its many variations."
The brief further contends: "The states favor - and therefore encourage - marriage over transient relationships because marriage promotes stable family bonds, fosters economic interdependence and security for members of the marital household, and enhances the physical and emotional wellbeing of both the partners to the marriage and any children they may raise… All of these interests are furthered by ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution."
Link to 12-144 Amici Brief Massachusetts et al filed 2-28-13