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Marriage Equality

Obama Admin Marriage Brief: Bans 'Incompatible' With Constitution

Obama Admin Marriage Brief: Bans 'Incompatible' With Constitution


The administration makes a strong argument for marriage equality in a brief filed Friday in the upcoming Supreme Court case.

The Obama administration made its support for marriage equality official Friday, with the Department of Justice filing a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the upcoming marriage case, which involves same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The brief calls such bans "incompatible" with the U.S. Constitution, CNN reports. Such bans "cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws," Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote in the brief.

He also said the bans "impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted" and that there is "no adequate justification for such a discriminatory and injurious exercise of state control."

The brief further calls for the laws to be subjected to heightened judicial scrutiny, as they apply to a group of people who have historically suffered discrimination. "Heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause is particularly appropriate in the context of legal barriers to marriage," Verrill wrote. "A State should be required to present an especially strong justification for a law that excludes a long-disadvantaged class of persons from an institution of such paramount personal, societal, and practical importance."

Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this week in a USA Today op-ed that the Justice Department would file a friend of the court brief, formally known as an amicus brief. The Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments April 28 in the case, which arises from a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld marriage bans in the four states involved. It's the only appellate court do so since the Supreme Court's historic pro-equality ruling in Windsor v. USA in 2013.

Read the full brief here, courtesy of Equality Case Files.

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