Metro Weekly

AG Racine urges Supremes to support gay marriage

D.C.'s attorney general joins multi-state coalition calling for a sweeping ruling recognizing same-sex relationships

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine

D.C.’s Attorney General Karl Racine on Friday joined a growing chorus of voices calling on the Supreme Court to legalize marriage equality via a nationwide ruling that would circumvent attempts by county or state officials to flout court decisions overturning bans on same-sex marriage by refusing to recognize same-sex relationships and a number of rights that heterosexual married couples already enjoy. 

Racine joined with attorneys general from 16 more liberal-leaning states that have had a longer history with same-sex nuptials, including Massachusetts, a chain of states down the country’s Northeastern and West Coasts — except New Jersey — Iowa, Illinois and New Mexico to submit a brief arguing for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of a fundamental right to marriage. 

“As in other states with full marriage equality, couples married here in the District face serious disadvantages when they travel in or move to states without marriage equality,” Racine said in a statement. “It is time for the Supreme Court to declare that, no matter where they might go in this great country, the District’s same-sex couples are equal to other couples.”

In their brief, the coalition of liberal-leaning states argues that the refusal of some other, more conservative states to fully license or recognize same-sex marriages in all counties inflicts widespread harm on the couples who wed and their families. The brief argues that the lack of recognition for those marriages — including the recognition of parental, hospital visitation, insurance or inheritance rights — can even impact other basic life decisions made by a couple, such as education, employment and residency, as those couples will try to avoid states hostile to marriage equality. The coalition’s brief urges the Supreme Court to resolve the issue of marriage equality by issuing a comprehensive ruling. Otherwise, the coalition argues, officials in 21 other states where same-sex marriages is only recognized due to court decisions that overturned existing bans may refuse to implement any changes that would recognize same-sex relationships, as occurred recently in Alabama after that state’s supreme court ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the gutting of the state’s voter-approved ban on such nuptials.

“State officials openly defying federal courts in an attempt to limit the rights of a minority group should bring up bad historical memories for all Americans,” Racine said, invoking the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March that is a historic milestone in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the fifth anniversary of marriage equality in the District. “…I urge the justices of the United States Supreme Court to move us one giant step down the road in our nation’s long march toward living up to its founding principles.”

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