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March 6, 2014

GLAD Convenes Broad Array of Amicus Briefs in Support of Utah and Oklahoma Marriage Cases

A broad swath of marriage equality supporters weighed in with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit yesterday, filing amicus briefs in Kitchen v. Herbert and Bishop v. Smith, the Utah and Oklahoma marriages cases respectively.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders’ Civil Rights Project Director Mary L. Bonauto coordinated the amicus effort, involving attorneys and interested organizations representing religious leaders, child welfare organizations, business leaders, health care professionals, experts in family law, constitutional law and relationship recognition, and military leaders and service members. The amici urge the Court of Appeals to uphold the Utah and Oklahoma District Court rulings finding that the bans on marriage for same-sex couples violate the United States Constitution.

“I am honored to assist my legal colleagues so that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry the person they love no matter where they live,” said Bonauto, who litigated the groundbreaking Goodridge marriage equality case in Massachusetts (2003), and who filed the first multi-plaintiff challenges against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2009 and 2010. “These briefs came together in a short period of time with a lot of help from many people, and provide overwhelming evidence that the government gains nothing legitimate, and only does harm, in depriving loving, committed couples the ability to secure a government marriage license.”

Said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director Shannon Minter, who along with Peggy Tomsic of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., represents the plaintiffs in the Utah case: “We are thrilled by the outpouring of support for same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. The friend-of-the court briefs filed in this case represent an extraordinarily broad spectrum of voices supporting fair treatment of all families. As these diverse voices show, support for marriage equality is bipartisan, grounded in science and sound child welfare policy, and includes every major segment of our society. The breadth of information presented in these briefs is impressive and powerfully illustrates the compelling need for the law to embrace and support all families equally.”

The full array of amicus briefs can be read here.

The plaintiffs in the Utah case are couples - Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, and Karen Archer and Kate Call - are represented by NCLR and the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C. The plaintiffs in the Oklahoma case - Mary Bishop and Susan Baldwin, and Susan Barton and Gay Phillips - are represented by Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City firm of Holladay & Chilton, and by Joseph Thai, law professor at the University of Oklahoma. The cases have been expedited and will be heard by the same panel of judges in the 10th Circuit but on different dates.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.

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Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.