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Obama Administration Files Supreme Court Brief Backing Nationwide Marriage Equality

Obama

President Barack Obama's administration has filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide, Bloomberg reports:

The filing Friday sets up the administration to argue alongside gay-rights advocates when the nine justices hear arguments April 28. The court is likely to rule in late June.

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.

Even after Obama backed gay marriage publicly in 2012, his administration took a more nuanced view in court. When the Supreme Court considered the issue in 2013, the administration stopped short of urging nationwide legalization, instead taking a position that would have added eight new gay-marriage states.

The Washington Blade adds that 211 congressional Democrats - 167 House members and 44 Senators - have filed a separate friend-of-the-court brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn bans on same-sex marriage.

Major corporations and veteran GOP officials have also lined up behind nationwide marriage equality. 

Read the brief below via Equality Case Files:

United States Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files


Over 300 Businesses Sign Amicus Brief Supporting Marriage Equality

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Hundreds of different companies and organizations including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Disney have signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for a repeal of laws that block same-sex couples from marrying. Outlined in the brief is the very real concern that statewide bans on gay unions have a chilling effect on local businesses.

Out Leadership is an LGBT is an advocacy firm working to promoting the LGBT presence within different industries including law, insurance, and finance. OPEN Finance, a New York-based financial coalition, fights for workplace equality through impactful policy changes. Of the 379 companies that signed the brief 33 are members of Out Leadership, OPEN Finance, or both organizations. Obergefell v. Hodges, they affirm, could represent a critical step in the right direction towards a more egalitarian society with very tangible economic impacts.

“History is about to be made, and this is possibly the last chance firms will have to express themselves before the Supreme Court rules on whether Americans have a civil right to marriage equality,” Todd Sears, Founder and Principal of Out Leadership explained in an exclusive to Towleroad. “ Markets are rational. The irrationality of discrimination has never sat well for Wall Street. We’re not surprised to see Out Leadership firms leading the way on this issue of fundamental equality in our country.”

In essence, the brief explains, bans on gay marriage create a multitude of logistical and economic hurdles that hurt the business interests of companies looking to do large-scale work in various states. More than just denying gay couples their civil rights to marriage, these bans can have detrimental impacts on local economies.

"Our campaign leveraged OPEN Finance’s deep connections across Wall Street [and those] leaders sent a powerful message to their firms’ senior management: we need you to take action,” “Ultimately, the result is increased loyalty to our employers, and a great sense of pride for what our leaders have done to support LGBT equality."

Read the full brief and see which companies joined in the fight for LGBT equality, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Over 300 GOP Leaders Sign Supreme Court Brief Supporting Marriage Equality: READ THE LIST

Gop

Over 300 veteran Republican politicians and operatives have signed a friend of the court brief at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The amicus brief, organized by openly gay former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, arrives ahead of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in four same-sex marriage cases scheduled for April 28

TIME reports:

Among the signatories are 23 current and former Republicans members of the House of Representatives and Senate and seven current and former Governors. Sens. Susan Collins and Mark Kirk have signed onto the brief, as has Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Other notables include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and billionaire GOP mega-donor David Koch.

The 2013 brief included 131 signatures, featured many former top aides to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, including his general counsel and two senior advisors. The list has now grown to 303 signatories.

In an interview with TIME, Mehlman pointed to the growing national consensus and within the GOP on the issue. “There’s been an increase since the last time in public support for marriage equality across all ideological, racial, and political groups,” he said.

Read the full brief and list of signers, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Find Out If Your Mayor Signed The Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

Rawlings.Mike

Hundreds of mayors from across the country have signed an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Freedom to Marry reports: 

Mayors-for-the-Freedom-to-MarryThree years after its launch in 2012, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry today signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to end marriage discrimination nationwide. The brief includes 226 individually named mayors as well as 40 cities across the country, from towns as small as Thompson, North Dakota, to the five largest cities in the nation, as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

“We launched Mayors for the Freedom to Marry three years ago because mayors are closest to their constituents and communities and singularly able to make the case that marriage makes for stronger families and a more vibrant economy,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “We’re very proud of the 700 mayors who have been a part of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry over the three years of this campaign. This brief demonstrates the diversity of leaders across the country who know that America is ready for the freedom to marry and want the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution.”

Perhaps most notable among mayors who signed the brief is Mike Rawlings of Dallas (above), who created a firestorm in 2012 when he refused to sign the pledge to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Rawlings also later scuttled a City Council vote on a marriage equality resolution. But The Dallas Morning News reports that Rawlings has finally evolved to the point of taking a public stand on the issue: 

“I am not a big fan of signing toothless pledges because I don’t find them very significant,” Rawlings said. “But this is significant and I feel like I am speaking for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Dallas, Texas. I wanted to make sure the Supreme Court knows that there is mayor in Texas, and in one of the top 10 cities in the country, that feels that the city of Dallas will be better off (with gay marriage.)” ...

“This is a personal issue for me,” Rawlings said. “I have so many friends in the LGBT community and this is really a moment of truth for them and for me. I am so proud not only to be rooting for this case to succeed, but also to be actively petitioning the Supreme Court on their behalf.”

(On a side note, as the reporter who broke the story about Rawlings' refusal to sign the pledge, and relentlessly hounded him for years afterward, I called him on his cell phone this morning to personally thank him.) 

According to Freedom to Marry, other key signers of the brief include: 

Mayor Michael Duggan of Detroit, MI; Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, OH; Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH; Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia; Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore; Mayor Mayor Karyn Hippen of Thompson, ND; Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, AL; and Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, TN

Read the full amicus brief and find out if your mayor signed on by scrolling to the bottom, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Will Bring His Traveling Anti-Gay Marriage Circus To Texas

Cake

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is taking his anti-gay-marriage show on the road. From a press release:

Conservative Republicans of Texas, Campaign for Texas Families, and other conservative organizations and leaders will sponsor a Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment Rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm.  Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore will deliver a keynote address describing his continuing efforts to preserve Alabama’s right to determine the definition of marriage.  

MooreMoore and the rest of the state Supreme Court issued a decision this week halting same-sex marriages, temporarily, in Alabama. Of course, marriage equality hasn't arrived in Texas, but presumably Moore will be providing tips on what to do if and when that happens.

Not that Texas legislators really need any such advice. They've already introduced legislation to bar county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, one of whom has ovarian cancer. Frankly, Texas legislators probably shouldn't be taking advice from Moore, since he was unable to stop same-sex marriages from occurring in Alabama for several weeks. 

From the press release: 

Marriage is a God ordained institution between a man and a woman and it is the fundamental foundation of families and of ordered societies: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5).

In the November 8, 2005 General Election, the citizens of Texas passed, by an overwhelming margin of 76% to 24%, a Marriage Amendment to the Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 32, which provides that “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”

The press release doesn't mention that turnout in that election 10 years ago was 18 percent, or that some polls show more Texans now support same-sex marriage than oppose it: 

The purpose of this rally is to protect and preserve Biblical marriage. The Texas Legislature and state legislatures around the country can stop the federal courts’ encroachment on states’ rights to determine the definition of marriage. Rep. Cecil Bell, Jr., and Sen. Charles Perry have filed legislation that would prohibit any state or local government employee from issuing marriage licenses in violation of the Texas Constitution.  It would also prohibit the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for that purpose. The legislation is aimed at preserving Texas’ right to determine how marriage is defined.

We all know nationwide same-sex marriage is likely coming in June. With any luck, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will lift a stay of a federal judge's ruling striking down Texas' marriage ban prior to Moore's visit. If that happens, several Texas county clerks have already committed to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Wouldn't it be nice if gay couples could join Moore on the Capitol steps to cut their wedding cakes?   


Eighth Circuit Stays Federal Ruling Striking Down Nebraska's Gay Marriage Ban

EighthThe Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay on U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon's ruling striking down Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex nuptials were scheduled to begin Monday barring Eighth Circuit action. 

The court will hear oral arguments in the case on May 12 alongside three other same-sex marriage cases from South Dakota, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Developing...

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in four same-sex marriage cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee on April 28.


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