SC Equality joins Groups from 22 other states in "Prop 8" and "DOMA" Amicus Brief | Arts & Culture
On Wednesday, the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE), along with South Carolina Equality and Gender Benders, organizations based in South Carolina, 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 next month.
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.”
South Carolina Equality Executive Director, Ryan Wilson explained, “Here in South Carolina, our best hope for marriage equality rests in the hands of the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider both the case involving California’s Prop 8 and the case against the so-call ‘Defense of Marriage Act’. Given the current political climate, it is difficult for us to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in South Carolina through the General Assembly and our governor, so it is important for SC Equality to pursue other avenues. Whether through legislative channels, working municipal and county level, or through the court system, SC Equality will continue to fight for a South Carolina where Equal Means Everyone!”
South Carolina Equality Board Chair, Jeff Ayers also celebrated the filing of the amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief. “The US Constitution demands equal treatment under the law, no matter where someone lives. Despite growing acceptance of gay people nationwide and in South Carolina, the laws of our state and many in the South remain hostile to the equality of gay and lesbian citizens. This brief calls on the Supreme Court to act now to dismantle these systems of discrimination and SC Equality stands firmly with our partners from 22 other states to demand action.”
The brief submitted on Wednesday 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.