March 4, 2013

IconBriefs filed in support of same sex marriage before Supreme Court

Oral arguments heard at US Supreme Court later this month

On March 26th and 27th, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding Proposition 8 and the Defense Against Marriage Act. Last week, multiple briefs were filed in support of the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ Plaintiffs challenge against Prop 8, and the repeal of DOMA.

I’ve mentioned Prop 8 before, and that’s because it is a wily case that is frankly hard to untangle. Suffice to say, marriage equality advocates are hoping that, after five years of bandying around the words “Prop 8” and “Marriage Ban” and “Really, California??!” an end is finally in sight. Once the oral arguments are heard, it is presumed that a verdict will be reached by June of 2013. (I know I’m not the only California native with her fingers crossed.) Briefs came piling in last week and backers of the Plaintiffs in the landmark Hollinsgworth vs. Perry included the obvious choices of PFLAG, the 13 US States where marriage equality is legal, NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendan Ayanbadejo, and the state of California.

As far as the Defense Against Marriage Act goes (a federal law that went into effect in 1996 that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman) the case of US vs. Windsor will be going before the Supreme Court as well. President Clinton, who originally signed the DOMA into law, has long ago changed his views and has advocated the repeal. In addition, the Obama administration added its official support last week (Gobama!). Over one hundred American companies devised a brief stating how their married LGBT employees are negatively affected by having the state recognize their marriage, but having that same marriage not recognized on a federal level. These are prominent companies, such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, and Disney, and their arguments are logical, precise, and should hold some clout.

In a pleasant change of events, over one hundred prominent Republicans added their names to a brief presented to the Court. Former members of Mitt Romney’s staff, a former Congressman, a former member of John McCain’s staff, Meg Whitman (a prominent Republican who supported Prop 8 when she ran for governor of California), and a handful of former members of the Bush administration all added their signatures to a brief in support of same sex marriage. Obviously it is known that not all members of the GOP are opposed to marriage equality, but it is encouraging when prominent members put it in writing.

Perhaps my favorite “brief” was that put forward by Ellen DeGeneres. Granted, she filed said brief on her blog and on Facebook, but it is still a valid argument. I’m proud of the Obama administration, the bold Republicans, the celebrities, the Faith organizations, the LGBT organizations, and the American companies for taking an official stand. But really, I just love Ellen.

“Portia and I have been married for 4 years and they have been the happiest of my life. And in those 4 years, I don’t think we hurt anyone else’s marriage. I asked all of my neighbors and they say they’re fine. But even though Portia and I got married in the short period of time when it was legal in California, there are 1,138 federal rights for married couples that we don’t have, including some that protect married people from losing their homes, or their savings or custody of their children.

The truth is, Portia and I aren’t as different from you as you might think. We’re just trying to find happiness in the bodies and minds we were given, like everyone else. Coming out was one of the hardest things I ever did. I didn’t intend to be on the cover of Time magazine saying, “Yep, I’m gay.” The truth is, I don’t even remember saying that. I mean, I definitely said the “I’m gay” part. It’s the “yep” I don’t remember. I’m not really a “yep” person. “Yes siree Bob” maybe. But not “yep.”

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We’re here, we’re queer, get over it.” And there’s another famous quote that says “A society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.” I couldn’t agree with that more. No one’s really sure who said it first, so if anyone asks, tell them I said it.

I hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing, and let everyone enjoy the same rights. It’s going to help keep families together. It’s going to make kids feel better about who they are. And it is time.

*I was just told Benjamin Franklin did not say that first quote. I apologize and see that I have a lot to learn about stuff.”


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Maria Burnham


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