September 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Attorneys general seek marriage decision from Supreme Court
Martha Coakley, Kathleen Kane, Doug Gansler, John Suthers, gay news, Washington Blade

Attorneys General Martha Coakley (D-Mass), Kathleen Kane (D-Pa.), Doug Gansler (D-Md.) and John Suthers (R-Colo.) are calling on the Supreme Court to take up a marriage case. (Photos of Kane and Suthers public domain; photo of Coakley by Fogster courtesy Wikimedia Commons; photo of Gansler by Greenhouseoutgasser courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

State attorneys general offered on Thursday differing arguments for why the Supreme Court should issue a nationwide decision on the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry — although these officials held the same view justices should make a final ruling on the issue.

In one friend-of-court brief, a set of 15 attorneys general say the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals was correct in overturning Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, arguing the Supreme Court should make that standard apply across the country.

But in a separate filing, another set of 14 attorneys general maintain the Supreme Court should deliver a final answer on the issue, but make no explicit statement on whether justices should uphold bans on gay nuptials.

The brief in support of marriage equality argues for a nationwide standard, because, among other reasons, legal uncertainties as a result of some jurisdictions not recognizing the unions of married same-sex couples.

“A spouse in a same-sex marriage may turn down a new job or a promotion if it requires a transfer to a state that does not recognize his or her marriage,” the brief states. “Same-sex spouses may decline to pursue educational opportunities for the same reason. In other circumstances, a sick parent or relative may require care in another State, but concern for loss of marital status and its attendant rights may dissuade individuals from relocating, potentially placing greater stress on other relatives or burdening the family’s financial resources.”

The brief was signed by attorneys general in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington State.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who’s running for governor in her state, is credited with the leading the effort among state attorneys general seeking a nationwide ruling for marriage equality.

“Our experience in Massachusetts clearly shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry has only benefitted families and strengthened the institution of marriage,” Coakley said in a statement. “We urge the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this important civil rights issue and ensure equal access to marriage for all couples nationwide.”

The other brief was submitted by states that lack marriage equality, but doesn’t explicitly make a statement on the constitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage.

Instead, the brief makes the case that the Supreme Court should take up the marriage issue because litigation seeking marriage equality is burdening the states. For example, the filling says, clerks have raised legal questions by distributing marriage licenses in states without marriage equality, and numerous court orders have complicated administration in these states.

“Absent this Court taking up the issue, these types of conflict will likely continue to play out in the pending same-sex marriage cases,” the brief says. “Far better than allowing this discord to be aired from court-to-court across the country, this Court can swiftly resolve the legal disputeand thereby take control of the conflict.”

But the brief isn’t completely free of language in opposition to marriage equality. At one point, it says federal involvement on the issue “raises the prospect of a new federal constitutional limit on State marriage laws” and argues litigation is hampering the democratic process for states considering the marriage issue.

The brief was signed by attorneys general in Colorado, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who filed a lawsuit against Boulder Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall for distributing marriage licenses to gay couples, is credited with the being the lead on this brief.

These friend-of-the-court briefs join petitions already filed before the court by Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma, which appeal decisions overturning same-sex marriage bans in those states (although technically the Oklahoma brief was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the Tulsa Court Clerk, not the state). Altogether, a total of 32 states have now called on the Supreme Court to make a final determination on the marriage issue.

Attorneys general that didn’t sign either brief serve in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, Nevada, Ohio as well as D.C.

The Supreme Court will have an opportunity to decide whether it’ll take up one of the marriage cases during its first conference of the upcoming term on September 29. Justices may decide to choose a case then, or wait until a subsequent conference to make a determination.

Briefs from the attorneys general were filed alongside a bevy of other friend-of-the-court briefs calling on the Supreme Court to settle the marriage issue. Another prominent brief filed by 30 employers — including Target, Nike, Amazon.com, eBay and Bloomberg LP — calls for the Supreme Court to issue a nationwide ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Other briefs seeking a ruling upholding bans on same-sex marriage were filed by the conservative group known as Judicial Watch as well as religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

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

4 Comments
  • I can cite another reason why the Supreme Court must ultimately decide the issue of whether gay and lesbian couples in all 50 states have the legal and constitutional right to marry.

    That reason — aside form the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — is Article IV of the U.S. Constitution:

    Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

    Section 2: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

    While there is no chance that Congress, given its current partisan division, will act on the matter, it is Section 2 of Article IV — the Entitlement Clause — that is the most relevant section.
    Gay and lesbian couples who live in those states where same-sex marriage is banned but who marry in a state where it is legal are constitutionally entitled to have their marriages recognized by their home state.

  • The bible and the torah should be banned!

    Here are several really loving excerpts from the Torah; the first five books of the Old Testament in the bible — perhaps read to the congregation on Friday night at a synagogue or a Sunday morning church in the meadow.

    1. Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
    2. Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16
    3. Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7.

    Rabbinical / Priestly rules: Leviticus 21:17-18 … “No one who is blind or lame or has a defect or any blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.” Leviticus 18:22 … “You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

    The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to rabbis and priests … refuse to remove this stigma maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

    Being left-handed … black or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is something that should be celebrated! If it’s between two guys or two girls — all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

    It’s now time to shut down the synagogues and churches with the torah & bibles with Leviticus 18:22 and Deuteronomy 13:12-16. To see the religious lunatics manipulate government and peoples’ lives — is shameful.

    Many theologians state quite correctly that the birth; crucifixion; resurrection and other elements of christianity actually didn’t even happen! Churches are committing hate crimes and more succinctly a violent criminal offence against a federally protected minority namely the gay community. It is actually a bigger moment in history … gays standing up for equality … the realization that there is something far more evil at work — hateful religion which should be discharged from society – period.

    Religion and the churches should now be exposed as a bigoted structure that gets away with hate mongering. It is a criminal offence to cause harm onto others physically or with written items; torahs – old testament/new testament bibles have been getting away with corruption and cultism based on bogus hocus pocus.

    There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity and other religions. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2014 year old fictional cult. In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity! Christianity is a fantasy; which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world.

    It is written; so therefore it shall be? We are the chosen people; such a wicked fantasy.

    Einstein stated in a letter recently auctioned that the bible was a collection of primitive legends. He said believing in God was childish and he as a Jew is no different than another person and are not chosen by God.

    http://www.HolyFaux.com

  • Religions are not just the opium of the mass, it's their curse. "Faith is believing something you know ain't true." – Mark Twain

  • Kudos to our Attorney Generals! Particularly Doug Gansler. It is no secret that I believe Doug Gansler is one of the greatest Attorney Generals ever. I am gratified to see Doug at the forefront of leadership of this group. The Supreme Court of the U.S. has done nothing but run away from ANY question relating to the equality and the rights of GLBT people for my entire life (60 years now). The few decisions they have made with respect to GLBT rights invariably have been tangential to addressing the overall issue at hand: in short, the Supremes have been truly "chicken sh*t" about accepting any case that involves anything remotely related to addressing the issue of the rights of GLBT people (whether it is to serve the nation in the military, to ensure equal protection under the law against acts of hate, or to uphold the obvious right of each and ever GLBT person to marry whomever s(he) choses. For example, has anyone even asked the traditional male-female heterosexual married couple "WHO VOTED FOR YOUR MARRIAGE ANYWAY?" Of course not. The blatant and destructive harm done to the GLBT community by acceptance of a wholly prejudicial and egregiously biased standard of what constitutes marriage under the Constitutional law of the United States is fundamentally irreparable. The pschological damage done to an entire class pf real human beings by avoiding dealing with the issue – because it is a "hot potato" – will not disappear when the Supremes finall do act – and really – in the interest of due process, equality under the law, and sanity – when the Supremes finally do address the issue head-on, there is only one ruling they can make and maintain stare decisis. If the Supreme Court fails to extend the right – at least in so far as requiring all states to recognize and honor marriages performed in states where GLBT marriage has been legalized (which at this point represents half the population), the Supremes will set a legal precedent which will undermine more than a Century-and-a-half's worth of jurisprudence based on "due process". There really isn't a lot of wiggle room here. Despite what some fast-talking shysters from the very loud mouthed extremist fundamentalist Christian right which for far too long has been allowed to impose their very rigid, very limited, and extremely bigotted value system upon the whole of U.S. society. Little boys and little girls are socialized at a very early age to buy into the equivalent of the Ozzie and Harriet myth of what constitutes marriage, family, and a social norm – which simply is at fundamental odds with the real composition of America (not just today, but 50 years ago for sure too and no doubt dating back time immemorial (the difference being marked by the 1969 Stonewall riots, where for the first time gays began to stand up for their human rights and refuse to live under such intolerable oppression (which viewpoint denies their very right to exist let alone to co-exist equally). Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler early on saw this and did his homework; he reviewed all of the decisions relating to the mysogny laws (the laws governing interrracial marriage) and the ultimate holding of the U.S. Supreme Court that all states must recognize a marriage performed in another state based on equality under the law, due process, and provisions in the Fair Faith and Credit Act). The parallel analogy to GLBT marriage is obvious. If the Supremes – who have the right to refuse to hear any case and so far have done their best to run away from making the ruling which is the only fair and just rulint they can make without setting a precedent which in theory at least could undo much of the Frederal government (as even the income tax and the right to create Executive Agencies derives from the expansion of the interpretation of the words "due process", not just "one man/one vote", and all of the other human rights advances even women's suffrage (which still required a separate Amendment for clarification), right up to Brown versus Ferguson, the Civil Rights Acts, and the expansion of the military-industrial complex, virtually all powers assumed to by the federal government even though not specifically enumerated based on the concept of "due process"). The likelihood that even Clarence Thomas whose opinions are generally regarded as being on the verge of Draconian and never asks any questions would set a precedent that risks undoing all the progress made over more than the past Century on all these fronts is extremely low. Hence, the inescapable conclusion that the only decision the Supremes can render in good faith is to extend the recognition of gay marriage to all 50 states – which is equivalent on its face to overturning an and all laws prhoibiting GLBT marriage and to creating a uniform Federal standard which will supercede all State laws. In all likelihood, all states will conform to the Federal standard by passing marriage equality or by judicial decree prior to such a decision from the Supremes. If the scenario I have just outlined – which Attorney General Doug Gansler, one of the finest public servants and most brilliant legal minds the country has ever seen, whom Equality Marland truly, truly ought to be ashamed of itself for failing to back in his bid for Governor earlier this year (Equality Maryland's decision was also "chicken sh*t" and given that the GLBT community hardly represents or ever represented AG Doug Gansler's constituency)),

    The GLBT Maryland community really ought to have understood that Gansler owed them nothing; his motivation for doing the homework and thinking this entire argument through – which is in fact the best legal argument advanced, one that is certain to win – was driven by his public service orientation and values gyroscope which derives from his core personal value sysem deeply rooted in the spirit of the meaning of the word "justice" (not crossing all the "t's" and dotting all the 'i's".

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