Metro Weekly

Top marriage equality advocates team up for Supreme Court brief

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court. Credit: Gouldy99/flickr.

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court. Credit: Gouldy99/flickr.

Two titans of the marriage equality movement have teamed up to formally urge the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide later this year — and they’re calling on Americans everywhere to join them. 

Roberta Kaplan, the lesbian attorney who successfully took on the Defense of Marriage Act, and Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, launched the “People’s Brief” that allows Americans to sign on and express their views on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court justices. Edie Windsor, the elderly lesbian widow represented by Kaplan who sued the federal government over DOMA and won, was the first to sign her name to the brief.

“I love it. I love the idea. I think it’s important for the Supreme Court, for the justices, to see an incredible quantity of people,” Windsor said in a video released by the online campaign. “Americans are fair. They know about fairness; they like justice. And if everybody is signing this thing, I think the justices will read that as very important.”


“The People’s Brief will show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country is ready for marriage and that love can’t wait even a single day longer.”


The overall argument of the amicus brief, known as a “friend of the court” brief, is that animus toward gay people was a driving factor for the passage of same-sex marriage bans, including the bans that will be considered by the Supreme Court out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that laws passed based upon a desire to discriminate against gay people offend the equal protection principles of our Constitution,” Kaplan said in a statement. “Such laws treat gay people as second class citizens—exactly what the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits. Over the course of decades, the American people have come to realize that their gay friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues have the same dignity and the same aspirations to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as everyone else. This brief describes that phenomenon and its impact on the law.”

HRC has launched a national paid social media and online advertising campaign to collect signature over the next four weeks. The brief will be filed with the Supreme Court before the March 6 deadline. It will likely be one of many to be submitted to the high court. The Obama administration as well as Democrats on Capitol Hill are also expected to file briefs in support of marriage equality.

“When it comes to marriage equality, the Supreme Court has heard from business leaders and elected officials, faith leaders and even the President of the United States,” said Griffin, who helped bring the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, in a statement. “But, until now, they’ve never heard from the fair-minded American majority who simply wants to see their LGBT friends and neighbors treated fairly and equally under the law. As we fight to guarantee marriage equality for all Americans, the People’s Brief will show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country is ready for marriage and that love can’t wait even a single day longer.”

Oral arguments are expected to be heard by the court in April with a decision handed down in June. Although marriage equality supporters have been optimistic the Supreme Court will rule in their favor, many were heartened Monday after the court declined to put same-sex marriages in Alabama on hold, in what appeared to be a signal that the court will rule in favor of marriage equality later this year. In a written dissent, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the denial of a stay “may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question” of same-sex marriage.

The People’s Brief

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.

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