State Democratic Parties File Joint SCOTUS Brief

BY AJ TRAGER

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Michigan Democratic Party and the Ohio Democratic Party have signed an amicus brief in the DeBoer v Snyder case that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court with 156 elected officials, former place holders and political organizations. Oral argument for the case, combined with other cases in the 6th Circuit, is set for April 28.

The brief urges the Court to reverse the judgment of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and reject the argument made by the 6th Circuit and the Ohio and Michigan Attorneys General that the basic constitutional rights of same-sex couples and their children should be subject to popular vote.

The brief reads: "Amici hasten to note that the issues in these cases transcend partisan politics and do not divide along party lines. At times in our history, both Democrats and Republicans, and their political parties, have perpetuated anti-gay discrimination and sought to use anti-gay animus for political advantage. Governors from both parties are defending the marriage bans now before the Court. On the other hand, many Democrats and Republicans have come to realize the fundamental unfairness of discrimination based on sexual orientation."

"Here in Michigan, far too many families have been denied liberty and justice for too long, because of the out of touch actions of Republicans Bill Schuette and Rick Snyder," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.

The case, which arose when a lesbian couple in Michigan sought joint adoption of their children, could establish same-sex marriage rights across the country when the Supreme Court issues its decision in June. However, Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette have insisted on siding against marriage equality by defending Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

"We are proud to stand with so many other elected officials and private citizens to say that we support full equality for all American citizens," House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, said. "We are hopeful for a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court that affirms that the protections and privileges of marriage are open to all people, and that everyone has an equal right to form a loving family."

The amicus brief is signed primarily by elected Democratic officials in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee but is joined by one Republican, former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who is known for supporting marriage equality.

"For two years now, the state of Michigan has argued that the children at issue in the Michigan case would be better off as orphans then have two gay parents. That's wrong. The rights of these kids -- so many of whom are special needs -- to have two loving parents should not be decided at the ballot box," said Mark Totten, one of the attorneys who authored the brief and a former candidate for Michigan attorney general.

Deadline for friend of the court amicus briefs is March 6. Elected officials and the general populous have already filed their briefs signaling support for marriage equality.

"While I have the responsibility to pass laws that affect over 11 million Ohioans as a State Representative, I am denied the dignity and protections to marry Jean Kosmac, my partner of 20 years. It's time to value all families in Ohio," said Nickie Antonio, the first openly gay state representative for Ohio.


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