Diverse Support For Same-Sex Couples In Michigan's Marriage Ban Challenge

By BTL Staff

DETROIT - In 31 unique amicus briefs submitted Tuesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 6th Circuit, scores of Republican leaders, businesses, military, faith leaders and religious institutions, child advocacy organizations, as well as numerous legal scholars, urged the court to put an end to Michigan's laws that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The 6th Circuit, which has pending cases from all four of the states within its jurisdiction -- MI, OH, TN and KY -- will hear arguments in those cases on Aug. 6.

Among the most notable briefs filed were:

Marriott, eBay, Pfizer, Starbucks and television network CBS joined nearly 50 other businesses detailing the impact on employers of the unequal treatment mandated by states that refuse to permit or recognize legal marriages between same-sex couples.

25 high-ranking Republicans, including Rick Johnson, former Republican Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, cited the "big tent" view of their party and argued that marriage equality was consistent with longstanding GOP values of families, freedom and individual liberties.

In the first marriage case brief ever filed by law enforcement officers and first responders, the signatories urged the Court to strike down discriminatory marriage laws. Collectively, they represent thousands of active duty and retired law enforcement officers who serve and protect communities.

Current and former members of the United States military and their families submitted a brief to highlight the significant implications of the Court's decision in these cases for the well-being of LGBT veterans and members of the armed forces, their families and the vitality of the nation's military as a whole.

Dozens of regional and national religious organizations and clergy also filed an interfaith brief arguing that the constitutional principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state require that same-sex couples must have equal access to civil marriage.

Leading family law professors and respected child welfare advocates wrote that banning same-sex marriage harms families and makes children of same-sex couples less protected and respected than their peers.

The American Sociological Association and the American Psychological Association reported three decades of social science research that consistently finds that same-sex couples are just as capable of being good parents and that their children are just as well-adjusted.

"As Republicans, we embrace the individual freedoms protected by our Constitution," said Chris Ward, former Republican Majority Floor Leader, Michigan House of Representatives. "We are honoring Ronald Reagan's vision of limited government and personal liberty by recognizing the basic rights of all citizens to marriage. The time has come to move forward and fulfill the meaning of those words for our friends, neighbors and family members in same-sex relationships."

A total of 20 Republicans, both current and former office holders and party officials in Michigan, signed the brief.

Businesses across the state of Michigan filed a brief, including Atlas Cut Stone, Gleason & Associates Claims Services, Growing Hope, Intel Corporation, Marriott, Pakmode Publications, Porter Automotive and several retailers, law firms and manufacturers. Google, which has a campus in Ann Arbor, also signed the brief, which argues that state laws that deny marriage to gay and lesbian citizens are bad for businesses.

Donald Kreiss, Bishop Southeast Michigan Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said the brief "bears witness to our highest religious values, honoring love, and affirming that we are all God's children. This is an important day. We are telling the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that many religious leaders and congregations in Michigan and across the country support equality of all persons before the law."

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and Union for Reform Judaism joined the brief.

DeBoer v. Snyder was originally filed in Jan. 2012 to challenge the Michigan law restricting second parent adoptions to married couples. Due to the state's marriage ban, gay and lesbian couples are prohibited from providing the security and stability to their children. At the suggestion of Judge Bernard Friedman, the complaint was amended to add a challenge to the marriage amendment to the Michigan constitution which prohibits the legal recognition of any gay and lesbian relationships, including civil unions and domestic partnerships.

On March 21 Judge Friedman struck down Michigan's marriage ban.

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