March 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Sotomayor responds to 6th grader’s letter on marriage
Sonia Sotomayor, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded to a 6th grader’s letter on marriage equality by encouraging her to dream big. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza public domain)

An associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has responded to a North Carolina middle-school girl’s request for a ruling in favor of marriage equality on behalf of her same-sex parents — and although the letter essentially offers no comment on the issue, it ends with an encouraging message to keep “dreaming big.”

In a letter dated Feb. 9, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was named to the court by President Obama, responded to Cameron, a 6th grader, who wrote to all nine Supreme Court justices. The justice’s letter was made public on Tuesday by the Campaign for Southern Equality, which posted the letter on its website.

Sotomayor says she can’t comment on an issue pending before the Supreme Court — in this case marriage equality, which is at issue in the court challenges to California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Still, Sotomayor urges Cameron to keep thinking about important issues.

“Unfortunately, I cannot comment on issues that might one day come before the Court, so I am unable to respond to your letter regarding marriage,” Sotomayor said. “I encourage you, however, to continue to think about the many important issues that impact our society.”

Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice to sit on the high court, ends the letter with an encouraging tone, telling Cameron to dream big because they “can come true when you work hard to achieve them.”

“In the years to come, I wish you the joy of dreaming big, working hard and succeeding in all that you do,” Sotomayor concludes.

Cameron had sent a letter to each of the nine justices, saying the issue of marriage equality is important to her because of her two parents, whom she identifies as Susan and Sheila. The letter was sent sometime after President Obama’s inaugural address, although it wasn’t immediately known when.

“My parents have been together for 26 years,” Cameron writes. “They took me to New York on their 25th anniversary so that they could be legally married. I was so happy for them. They are the best parents a kid could ask for and I love them so much. I would like to see their marriage recognized here in our home state.”

The 6th grader also details several aspects of her life to Sotomayor to allay any concerns about children being raised by gay parents.

“I can tell you that I am doing great,” Cameron says. “I am so loved. Everyone I know tells me I am such a lucky kid. My parents are my life. They quiz me before tests and make sure that I am doing well in school. I  was the top student in my class last year and have made Headmaster’s List every 6 weeks. I play travel soccer and I am currently trying out for the Olympic Development Program which means they dedicate most of their weekends to traveling all over the state so that I can compete against other teams. … I have never been teased. I think things are going very well. Thank you for your time.”

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said Cameron’s letter speaks for itself on why families like hers should have access to marriage.

“Cameron’s powerful words about being part of an LGBT family in the South get at the heart of the issues before the Supreme Court this month,” Beach-Ferrera said. “Should this loving, supportive family, raising an amazing kid, have the same legal protections as other families? From my viewpoint, Cameron makes the case clearly: the answer is ‘yes.'”

It appears as though Sotomayor was the only one of the nine justices to respond to Cameron, although that wasn’t known with certainty at the time of this posting.

Oral arguments in the Prop 8 case are set for March 26 and in the DOMA case are set for March 27. Justices are expected to render a decision before their term ends in June.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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