92 plaintiffs in marriage cases across the country stand with plaintiffs before SCOTUS

Friday, March 6, almost 100 plaintiffs from marriage cases from across the country signed onto an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide.

The signers were plaintiffs in the states Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and South Carolina -- some of whom were in cases that ultimately won, and some who are still fighting their legal battles in state and federal court.

The brief explained why it is important that the Justices, and not state legislation, decide the question of the freedom to marry once and for all:

This brief addresses the Sixt Circuit's question of "who decides" whether the laws denying marriage to same-sex couples unjustifiably treat amici and other gay men and lesbians as second-class citizens. This brief shows that using the customary tools of constitutional analysis -- the words and historical context of the Equal Protection Clause and this Court's precedents -- it is the federal judiciary and ultimately this Court, not the states, that decides this issue.

Who decides is critical to amici. This is because, under the Sixth Circuit's "leave it to the states" approach, the political reality in amici's home states offers no credible prospect of achieving marriage for same-sex couples through the legislative or electoral process for many years, if ever. That reality inflicts real and tangible harms every day on amici, their families, and countless other gay men and lesbians who would -- if they could -- marry in their home states.


This Court's enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause is vital to amici because, although the Sixth Circuit identifies legislative progress in some states in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, amici reside in states with long and continuing legislative records of hostility to the rights of gay men and lesbians and of marriage for same-sex couples in particular. Deferring to state legislatures or electorates on this issue would mean upholding for some considerable time legislation that specifically targets gay and lesbian Americans for treatment as second-class citizens. This Court should not grant its imprimatur to the stigmatization and marginalization of same-sex couples and their children resulting from the denial of many legal protections attendant to legally-recognized marriage.

Plaintiffs who signed include Derek and John Robicheaux from Louisiana, Nancy and Jenny Rosenbrahn from South Dakota, and Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes from Texas. Mark Phariss said on Friday:

The brief argues forcefully that the Equal Protection Clause, when adopted, was intended to be flexible and that, if the Supreme Court does not now rule against same-sex marriage bans, marriage equality will not come to many states for a long time. As one who has been in a long-term relationship for almost 18 years and wants to marry the person I love, who also happens to be a veteran and retired Major of the U.S. Air Force and who served our country for almost 23 years, that is not acceptable. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, our country cannot endure, permanently, a situation where same-sex couples are free to marry in some states and not free to marry in other states. It is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of love, equality and justice for all, which, in the end, will enable all same-sex couples, including Vic and me, to finally marry in their home states.

On January 16, the United States Supreme Court announced that this year, they will hear arguments in a case on the question of whether same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry and if anti-marriage laws nationwide should be struck down as unconstitutional. The Court granted review of an out-of-step ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which ruled in November against the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. In each of these cases, federal judges had ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for all, and the 6th Circuit reversed each decision.

Oral arguments in this case will be heard on April 28.

Read the full brief here. And read about the dozens of other briefs filed to the U.S. Supreme Court here.