Virginia Joins Supreme Court Brief To Strike Down DOMA

“Red State Brief” Filed in DOMA and Proposition 8 Cases Highlights Constitutional Challenges of Gay and Lesbian People Living in Conservative Communities

Download the brief here

Today, Equality Virginia and People of Faith for Equality in Virginia joined organizations across 23 states in filing a brief for two pending cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor.

The brief led by the Utah Pride Center and the Campaign for Southern Equality urges the justices to strike down a wide range of anti-gay laws.  The brief calls on the Court to uphold appellate court rulings in both the Defense of Marriage and Proposition 8 cases.

“We join our fellow signees in recognizing the difficulties faced by gay and lesbian Americans living in conservative places where they have limited rights,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said.

The brief contends that many local state laws are designed to routinely deny gay citizens basic civil rights, and many state codes are woven in a tangle that can only be unraveled by the courts.

“The issue risen by these cases, and addressed in our brief, is simple: is it constitutional for the laws of the United States and the various states and subdivisions of the nation, to be used to systematically denigrate the persons, the lives, the families, and the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans?” Robin Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, said.

Despite growing acceptance of gay and lesbian people nationwide and in Virginia, laws still remain hostile.  Virginia lacks basic workplace protections for its LGBT state and public employees and in 2006, the Marshall-Newman Amendment banned any state government recognition of gay and lesbian couples.

“Looking north from Virginia to neighboring Maryland and DC where gays and lesbians can marry shines a light on the great disparity this Supreme Court has a chance to correct with a favorable ruling on these two cases.” Parrish said. “We are confident Virginia will eventually recognize these civil rights with the rest of the nation, but the Supreme Court now has the opportunity to make sure all gay and lesbian Americans are treated equally under the constitution.”

A U.S. Supreme Court decision is anticipated in late-June.

“It is through this brief that these citizens can speak so that the anti-equality opinions of the current state administration, as represented by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, do not constitute the only Virginia voice speaking to the Supreme Court,” Gorsline said.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for these cases on March 26-27, 2013.

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One Response

  1. Deborah Mandigo says:

    It is sad to think that in 2013 there is still prejudice and bigotry among us. My family has lived through segregated bussing, separate water fountains and beaches, and blacks not being allowed to sit at the fountain counter and order a hamburger. I thought it was all horrible at the time and yet, the same thing exists today, I never understood why it took so long for people to realize that others with darker skin are just as productive and just as viable a human than those with lighter skin.

    Now our country is undergoing another civil rights issue with a couple of twists. People can see your race when meeting you. They cannot always see your sexual identity. People of the LGBTQ communities have been living amongst straight people from day one. In 1960, two people of darker persuasion could marry while two people in the LGBTQ community cannot. Black people were not expected to be able to contribute to the economic welfare of the country the same as whites while gay people are. Black people were acknowledged as families when children came along where gay families are not. Black people could join the armed forces and fight for our country. Until very recently, gay people could not. And finally, black people could not lie about who they were or try to be something they weren’t, while gay people often times have to do that for basic survival.

    I see the change in attitudes happening in our country. My fear is that it is going to take another generation of people to die and one more generation of young people to grow up before total change will occur. I wonder how many more lives will be broken during that time, how many children will suffer the discrimination given to their same sex parents, and how many teenagers we will lose to suicide because society does not treat them as equal. In twenty years, I suspect we will all look back on this time and wonder why it was ever such a problem just like we have with the civil rights issues of 1960.

    Many people, my parents included, ask me why I have to be so vocal about being a lesbian. I tell them its because we have to work so hard to have normal every day recognition for who we are, My partner and I have been together for 27 years. My parents recently told me when they die, her name will not be in their obituary because people talk and it would be embarassing. Its just one example of the rights that are afforded to everyone else, but not to me and others in the LGBTQ community.. So I will keep talking until the day everything is fair and equal for all people.

    I applaud the work of Equality Virginia, the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, and other organizations who fight so hard for our equality. I look forward to the day when they are all part of our history, just like the Stonewall Riots are now. Until then, we all keep fighting to have our place in this country, and people in the legislature should be doing the same rather than holding on to old 1960 values.

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