Thursday, April 24, 2014

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Files Brief In Favor Of Marriage Equality In Virginia Case

The briefs are starting to come in support of the plaintiffs in the Virginia marriage equality case Bostic v. Schaefer (previously Bostic v. Rainey) which will be heard before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals next month. In a rare example of the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fun (LDF) working together, the two have filed a joint brief in favor of marriage equality.

The groups call for marriage equality for lesbians and gay men by invoking the principles set forth in the Supreme Court's iconic 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia,which struck down laws that prohibited marriage for interracial couples.
"More than fifty years ago, the Supreme Court unequivocally established the right of every individual to marry the person she or he chooses," said Ria Tabacco Mar, Assistant Counsel in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Economic Justice Group. "It's long past time to strike down laws that deprive lesbians and gay men of their constitutional rights," Ms. Tabacco Mar added. 
In the brief, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP make clear that Lovingwas not restricted to race: the freedom to marry has long been recognized as a fundamental right "essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness."

"Marriage is a civil right under state law," stated Kim M. Keenan, NAACP General Counsel. “In furtherance of our legacy of advocacy in Loving v. Virginia, we are proud to stand with the NAACP LDF to ensure that every person is treated the same and benefits the same under law."  The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP argue that marriage discrimination violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, the same baseless and offensive accusations proffered by the proponents of Virginia’s marriage ban -- that prohibitions on marriage equality are necessary to protect children -- were also invoked by Virginia in 1967 in defense of its anti-miscegenation law.
The Virginia case is the one that has the involvement of Ted Olson and David Boies, who filed the federal suit that led to the demise of Proposition 8.

In other Virginia news, the senior U.S. Senator from Virginia has today published a joint editorial with his Harvard Law School classmate Evan Wolfson arguing why Virginia's ban on marriage equality needs to go.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the words "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence, he put in place a moral standard that will always challenge us to be better people. 
Our founders passionately believed in equality, but most saw no contradiction between that belief and slavery. It took 90 years and a civil war to correct that injustice.
The post-Civil War Congress that changed the Constitution to abolish slavery passionately believed in equality, but most saw no contradiction in women's inability to vote. It took nearly 70 years to remedy that injustice. 
Today, Virginians and Americans are advancing Jefferson's equality principle by re-thinking laws that limit the freedom to marry. 
The two of us first became friends in law school more than 30 years ago. Our career and personal paths have taken different directions. But we share a commitment to making people's lives better, their dreams more attainable and their families stronger. 
And we share a commitment to Jefferson's farsighted ideal. That's why we look forward to the day when all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation, can marry. 
In recent months, 11 out of 11 federal judges have ruled against marriage discrimination. 
In February, a federal judge in Norfolk was one of them.

I think lots of people think the Virginia case is the one that the Supreme Court is going to use to decide the question of whether state bans on same-sex marriage violate the U.S. constitution.

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