Focus on the Court: Windsor v. United States and Perry v. Hollingsworth



I’ve written before on RACblog about the important marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court this term: Windsor v. United States, the case that challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act; and Hollingsworth, v. Perry the challenge to California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. While there have been many developments and much speculation since that time, I want to fill you in today specifically on the overwhelming number of briefs that were filed in the cases before the deadline last week.

Some thirty briefs have been filed in support of the challenge to Proposition 8, and twenty briefs have been filed in support of overturning DOMA. The signatories to these Amicus briefs represent an impressively diverse group of organizations, individuals and corporations.

172 current members of the House of Representatives and 40 members of the Senate, including the Democratic leadership in both houses and the co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus, have signed onto a brief.  More than two-dozen prominent Republicans, including the former chief adviser to the Romney campaign and a former RNC chairman, have signed onto a similar brief challenging DOMA and Prop 8. Considering that only two current Republican members of Congress have endorsed a repeal of DOMA and the fact that the House Republican leadership is footing the bill for its defense, this brief explicates a significant divide in the Republican Party.

A group that is often overlooked in discussions of marriage equality, over 70 corporations have signed on to another brief challenging DOMA. From Apple to Xerox, from Levi-Strauss to the Jim Henson Company, corporations across the country have found that providing equal rights and equal benefits for LGBT couples is good for business.

And while the several religious groups who have filed briefs in support of legislation like DOMA and Prop 8 have gained considerable attention, religious support for marriage equality continues to grow. A number of national denominations, including the URJ, the USCJ and the RRA have signed onto a brief in Edith v. Windsor.  The Anti-Defamation League has also written a brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry in which it is joined by the CCAR, WRJ, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights-North America), Hadassah and a number of other religious organizations.

But most importantly, just before the filing deadline last week, the Obama Administration filed briefs in both cases. The Administration stopped defending DOMA two years ago (which is why the House Republicans are paying for its defense in this case), however the brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry is the first time that the Administration has asserted that the citizens of California did not have the right to ban same-sex marriage. This is a major step in President Obama’s continued evolution on same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

What effect will this outpouring of support have? We will see as we gear up for oral arguments in these cases on March 26 and March 27. And as our community gears up for our other celebration on those days, think about what you and your family can do to bring marriage equality into your Passover seders.

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About Benny Witkovsky

Benny Witkovsky is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant, he is from Madison, WI, and recently graduated from Vassar College.

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