The Justice Department filed an amicus brief on Friday urging the Supreme Court to find same-sex marriage bans “incompatible with the Constitution.” The nation’s highest court is due to hear oral arguments on the issue in April.
The amicus brief filed
by Justice Department lawyers urged the Supreme Court to find
such bans unconstitutional because “they exclude a
long-mistreated class of human beings from a legal and social
status of tremendous import.”
The Obama administration takes the position that laws denying
same-sex marriage violate the equal protection clause of the
Constitution. The brief argues that throughout US history, gay
and lesbian people have been discriminated against and the
governments on the federal, state and local levels have
contributed to that history.
Gay individuals have “encountered numerous barriers – public
and private, symbolic and create – that have prevented them from
full, free, and equal participation in American life,”
stated the brief, according to the Huffington Post.
The government dismissed the argument from ban supporters that
marriage is only between a man and woman.
“It should go without saying that marriage is much more than
a government incentive program to encourage biological parents to
stay together,” the brief states, according to the
Huffington Post. The view that marriage is entirely geared toward
procreation “would hardly be recognizable” to most
In January, Supreme Court justices said they would hear cases
from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, all four of which
have banned gay marriage within their states, under the case
Obergefell v. Hodges. In total, 14 states still have gay marriage
bans on the books. The justices will need to rule not only on
whether state bans are constitutional, but also on whether states
have to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed
in other states.
DOJ urges Supreme Court to rule state same-sex marriage bans
unconstitutional. Read the brief: http://t.co/lcT2e9WNkI
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) March
Momentum has been gradually building for gay marriage supporters
around the US ever since 2013, when the court struck down part of
the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that allowed the federal
government to refuse to recognize same-sex unions from states
that legalized the right. The law barred the government from
granting gay couples benefits that were extended to straight
Public opinion has also tilted in favor of same-sex advocates,
with polls showing that more Americans are in support of gay
couples’ right to marry than are opposed.