Legal Center Files Brief with Supreme Court Supporting Marriage Equality

AHA Staffers show support for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court

AHA Staffers show support for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court during oral arguments.


For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, bmagee@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105

(Washington, DC, Feb. 27, 2013)—The American Humanist Association today submitted amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to uphold lower court decisions ruling that laws denying legal recognition to the marriages of gays and lesbians are unconstitutionally discriminatory. Those decisions were issued in two cases, one challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the other that of California’s Proposition 8, both of which deny equal marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

The briefs argued that, under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, discrimination against gays and lesbians must, like that on the basis of race or gender, be presumed to be unconstitutional. The briefs also argued that such discrimination is particularly egregious when it implicates the fundamental right to marriage and family life that is protected by the Constitution. Legislation may not “be used as a sword to deny the basic humanity and fundamental rights of gays and lesbians,” the briefs conclude. “Our Constitution requires that our laws treat each of us with equality and forbids them to create any class of second class citizens.”

“The Supreme Court has the opportunity to reverse decades of discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans, often rooted in religiously justified bigotry,” said Bill Burgess, legal coordinator of the American Humanist Association’s legal arm, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Our government must be a secular one, and cannot adopt any legislation that seeks to give religious condemnation of homosexuality the force of law. The Constitution instead requires that the law treat each of us equally.”

Oral arguments for both cases are scheduled to be heard on consecutive days next month, March 26-27.

Several allied nontheist organizations have signed on to the American Humanist Association’s brief, including American Atheists, American Ethical Union, the Center for Inquiry, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, the Secular Coalition for American, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

The full amicus briefs can be found here and here.

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across America. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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