AG Herring files brief supporting same-sex marriage ahead of Supreme Court hearing
This week over 70 organizations from around the country filed amicus briefs supporting the freedom to marry ahead of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage hearing scheduled for next month. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was among those who submitted such briefs and he explained his reasoning in a conference call held today.
“If the court tries to define the right (to marry) narrowly as the right to same-sex marriage it becomes much easier to rule against marriage equality,” said Herring in the phone-in press conference. He said the courts should reject this narrow interpretation and instead understand the issue to be less about same-sex marriage specifically, but rather about the right to marry in general.
“The question is whether that right can be completely denied to someone because of their sexual orientation,” said Herring. “We believe the answer is no and we think our brief will help the court arrive to the same answer.”
Camilla Taylor, Counsel and Marriage Project National Director of Lambda Legal, lead today’s conference call and discussed the briefs at length. Taylor was the lead attorney in Lambda’s breakthrough marriage victory in 2009 when an Iowa Supreme Court overturned their state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“There are briefs on behalf of elder Americans, Republicans, Democrats, Civil Rights groups, Social Justice groups and Women’s groups,” said Taylor about the wide range of voices lending their support to marriage equality. “It also shows the harm that same-sex couples and their children are experiencing in numerous contexts.”
Participants discussing their briefs were Attorney General Mark R. Herring of Virginia, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Brian Auld, President of the Tampa Bay Rays, Madeline Rogero, Mayor of Knoxville, and Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church.
Attorney General Mark Herring laid out his arguments in today’s call as follows:
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection under the law) 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?
Herring also wants to change the definition of the right to marry.
His biggest argument, as he explained, was the constitution is not compatible with bans on same-sex marriage which he called discriminatory .
“Quoting the conclusion of our brief, the constitution created a government that is dedicated to equal justice under the law,” said Herring. “That principle is not new, what is new is this generation’s recognition that that principle cannot be reconciled with governmental discrimination against gay people.”
Another participant in today’s conference was the mayor of Knoxville, TN, Madeline Rogerro. Though Tennessee currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, Rogerro, who submitted a brief of her own, said the diverse community she governs supports equality for LGBTQ people.
“We want a city that is open to everybody and that includes the LGBT community,” said Rogerro. “We’re seeing a societal consensus that is pushing the court to act now and to do the right thing.”
Herring and so many other officials and organizations from all backgrounds are fighting for the utmost equality for same-sex couples to relieve them of all forms of discrimination and make it so in every state.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments for and against same-sex marriage on Tuesday, April 28th.
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