From the Campaign for Southern Equality:
Asheville, N.C. (February 27, 2013) – Today the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the “Prop 8” and “DOMA” cases, which will be argued before the Court on March 26th and 27th. The brief was authored by Paul C. Burke and Brett Tolman, lawyers representing the Utah Pride Center, with assistance provided by Meghann Burke, an Asheville-based attorney with Cogburn & Brazil, who leads CSE’s Legal Team.
Among its arguments, the brief asks the Supreme Court to extend the fundamental right to marry to gay and lesbian Americans, including those who live in Southern states where constitutional bans on marriage equality are in place. Using the case study of Utah laws, the brief speaks to the experience of lesbian and gay Americans in a majority of states – including the entire South – where systems of entrenched legal discrimination treat LGBT people as second-class citizens. The brief states “At every stage of life – from the moment a child has an inkling of being gay, through
adolescence, adulthood, and sometimes beyond the grave – gay Americans are haunted by laws that deny the existence of gay people, demean them as lesser human beings, deprive them of fundamental rights, and denigrate their lives and familial relationships.” The brief urges the Court to dismantle these systems of discrimination.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, CSE’s Executive Director, said, “The Supreme Court is being asked to consider a fundamental question: are LGBT Americans equal people whose humanity and dignity must be recognized? In every city and town across the South we know there are LGBT youth, adults and families who urgently need – and desire – the rights and protections that our Constitution promises to all, including the ability to marry the person you love. The current lack of legal protections harms individuals and families across the South.”
The brief submitted today to the Supreme Court outlines some of these harms. “The keystone of existing systems of [discrimination against] gay Americans is the denial of the right to marry. It is both the crux of the matter and the root of other forms of legal discrimination against gay citizens. The heartbreaking message to gay couples: Your love and commitment is unworthy of marriage. The deprivation of the right to marry harms gay citizens and . . . marks them with a stigma that has been used to justify other deprivations.”
A total of 28 LGBT advocacy organizations from 23 states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, are signatories to the brief.
The entire brief is available for download at: http://www.southernequality.org/doma-and-prop-8-amicus-brief/