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