NFL players Brendan Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe – two high-profile advocates for equality – have joined the rush to file briefs backing gay marriage with the U.S. Supreme Court.
This week the deadline arrived for friend-of-the-court filings in two gay marriage cases the high court will hear later this month. One case deals with a challenge to the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Another deals with a challenge to Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative in which California voters amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
In their brief, they write, "When we advance the idea that some people should be treated differently because of who they are, demeaned in public as lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before, and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We urge the Court to repeat those actions here."
Dozens of other briefs have been filed with the court, including, briefs from the Obama administration – one asking the court to overturn the federal marriage ban in DOMA and one asking the court to overturn Prop 8. It was uncertain whether the administration would comment on Prop 8 until Feb. 28, when the brief was filed.
The brief on the Prop 8 case marks the president's most expansive view of gay marriage and signals that he is moving away from his previous assertion that states should determine their own marriage laws, The AP said. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, signed off on the administration's legal argument last week following lengthy discussions with Attorney General Eric Holder and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
In a statement following the filing, Holder said, "The government seeks to vindicate the defining constitutional ideal of equal treatment under the law."
Obama's position, if adopted by the court, would likely result in gay marriage becoming legal in the seven other states: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
In the longer term, the administration urged the justices to subject laws that discriminate on sexual orientation to more rigorous review than usual, as is the case for claims that laws discriminate on the basis of race, sex and other factors.
The Supreme Court has never given gay Americans the protection it has afforded women and minorities. If it endorses such an approach in the gay marriage cases, same-sex marriage bans around the country could fall.