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Obama Administration Files Supreme Court Brief Backing Nationwide Marriage Equality


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


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


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


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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Supreme Court Sets April 28 for Same-Sex Marriage Arguments


The 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.

Announcement here.

The court announced they would take up the cases in January:

The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted limited to the following questions:

1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

A total of ninety minutes is allotted for oral argument on Question 1. A total of one hour is allotted for oral argument on Question 2. The parties are limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions. The briefs of petitioners are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015. The briefs of respondents are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015. The reply briefs are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2015.

Read our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman's series of pieces leading up to the arguments. His first was an early analysis, his second about framing the case through the questions presented, and his third on the cases themselves.

Billionaire GOP Donor David Koch Files Amicus Brief Asking SCOTUS to Strike Down Gay Marriage Bans


Billionaire GOP megadonor David Koch is signing on to an Supreme Court amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage, The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Koch, the vice president of Koch Industries and the world’s sixth wealthiest person, is a deep-pocketed donor to Republican and conservative groups.

Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden confirmed on Tuesday that Koch will sign his name to the brief. Holden said he did so in his personal capacity.

“I believe in gay marriage,” he told Politico in 2012. A former vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket, Koch is in line with that movement’s thinking on the issue, despite his support for a party that frequently opposes gay marriage.

“I think the Republican Party has a great chance of being successful and that’s why I support it … but I believe in the libertarian principles,” he told Politico.

In his interview with Barbara Walters for her "10 Most Fascinating People of 2014" special back in December, Koch was asked why he backs anti-gay candidates despite his personal support for marriage equality. His reply? "That's their problem."


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