- March 1, 2013
The Obama Administration made history today by filing a brief at the Supreme Court arguing for the first time on behalf of the U.S. Government that a law denying loving and committed gay and lesbian couples the ability to marry is unconstitutional. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli filed the amicus curiae brief in the Perry case arguing that California's Proposition 8 discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
The government also argues, as it has in the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that laws that treat gays and lesbians differently must be held to a higher standard of review. The United States has a proud history of standing on the side of equality by filing amicus briefs in landmark civil rights cases, including the ground-breaking school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education.
The President has turned the inspirational words of his second inaugural address into concrete action by calling on our nation's highest court to put an end to discrimination against loving, committed gay and lesbian couples and their families.
While the Justice Department has actively argued against the constitutionality of DOMA in court, this brief marks the first time the Obama administration has weighed in on the constitutionality of a state law barring marriage for same-sex couples. The Solicitor General's brief joins dozens of amici supporting the Perry plaintiffs, including major businesses, prominent Republicans, faith groups, civil rights organizations, legal scholars, and many others.
The Perry case was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples in federal district court in California in May 2009. I was proud to have co-founded the organization sponsoring the case – the American Foundation for Equal Rights – and with the expert, bipartisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies, we’ve achieved victories in both district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The straightforward proposition that our Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection of the laws, including marriage laws, has always been central to our case. It is enormously gratifying to know that today, that the President and U.S. Government are standing with us against marriage discrimination.
A recent poll conducted for the Respect for Marriage Coalition found that 75 percent of voters believe the ability to marry the person you love is a constitutional right of every American including 56 percent of Republican voters. Additionally, 77 percent of voters believe that marriage for gays and lesbians will be legal in the United States in the next couple of years.