32 States To SCOTUS: Rule On Marriage

In two separate briefs, a total of 32 states have asked the Supreme Court to make a final ruling on same-sex marriage. Via the Associated Press:

Fifteen states that allow gay marriage, led by Massachusetts, filed a brief asking the justices to take up three cases from Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma and overturn bans. And 17 other states, led by Colorado, that have banned the practice asked the court to hear cases from Utah and Oklahoma to clear up a “morass” of lawsuits, but didn’t urge the court to rule one way or another. Massachusetts was joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.

Colorado’s brief argued that the definition of marriage faces legal challenges only the Supreme Court can resolve, and that without a Supreme Court decision, states defending bans could be liable for huge legal bills from future lawsuits if they are overturned. It was written by Daniel D. Domenico, the state’s solicitor general, and Michael Lee Francisco, assistant solicitor general. Colorado was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Via press release from Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley:

“Our experience in Massachusetts clearly shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry has only benefitted families and strengthened the institution of marriage,” AG Coakley said. “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. Laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying are discriminatory and unconstitutional. The time has come for this critical issue to be resolved.”

Today’s brief was filed in support of the petitions for Supreme Court review filed in three cases: Rainey v. Bostic, out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Herbert v. Kitchen and Smith v. Bishop, out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

A total of 31 states still do not permit marriages between same-sex couples, nor do they recognize same-sex marriages licensed by other states. The brief argues that by withholding the rights, protections, and obligations associated with marriage, these states relegate gay and lesbian couples and their families to a second-class status that is impermissible under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Coakley brief is here.