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Hey- I've been sitting on some really cool news for the last ten days.

Law firm Kramer Levin has just filed a pair of amicus briefs on behalf of religious organizations.

The US Supreme Court will be hearing challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 on March 26th (Prop 8) and March 28th (DOMA). The DOMA case being appealed is United States v. Windsor, in which a lesbian couple who married in Toronto, lived in New York (which recognized their marriage), and then had to pay $363,000+ in federal estate taxes when one spouse died in 2009. If they had been a heterosexual couple, they would have paid no estate taxes.

At the gathering of Friends for LGBTQ Concerns this month, in Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, our group was asked if we might be added as friends of the court. We had received a letter from the law office just weeks earlier. A small group studied the draft filing (so amazingly well-written!) and recommended that we do add our name to the brief. Our Business Meeting then discerned this was part of our witness, and so we sent back our "yes" along with a few minor corrections- and additional URLs. ...And they cited our webpages! Our collection of Marriage Minutes are cited in a Supreme Court filing! The webpages which were put together by fyddlestyx and myself!
(Though I want to make clear that other Quaker bodies wrote these Minutes on the subject of same-sex marriage. We just collected and shared them.)

BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE

BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE STATE OF
CALIFORNIA; MANHATTAN CONFERENCE OF
THE METROPOLITAN NEW YORK SYNOD OF THE
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA;
THE RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY; THE
RECONSTRUCTIONIST RABBINICAL
ASSOCIATION; RECONSTRUCTIONIST
RABBINICAL COLLEGE; RABBI AKIVA HERZFELD
OF SHAAREY TPHILOH; THE UNION FOR
REFORM JUDAISM; UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST
ASSOCIATION; UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST; THE
UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF CONSERVATIVE
JUDAISM; AFFIRMATION; COVENANT NETWORK
OF PRESBYTERIANS; FRIENDS FOR LESBIAN,
GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, AND QUEER
CONCERNS
; METHODIST FEDERATION FOR
SOCIAL ACTION; MORE LIGHT PRESBYTERIANS;
PRESBYTERIAN WELCOME; RECONCILING
MINISTRIES NETWORK; RECONCILINGWORKS:
LUTHERANS FOR FULL PARTICIPATION; AND
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTE, INC. IN SUPPORT OF
AFFIRMANCE IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS

Any information about the brief was to remain private until after it was filed; it's been tough to sit on this without telling anyone. The anti-DOMA brief is so very well written! How great is this...

"It appears that what those other amici want is not protection for their own free speech and free exercise rights, but rather immunity from disapproval they may face by those who affirm the rights and relationships of lesbian and gay people."

"[The preceding] belies the claim of certain amici favoring reversal that American religions speak uniformly or overwhelmingly in opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples. To the contrary, American religious thought and practice embrace a rich diversity. No one view speaks for “religion” – even if, contrary to the Establishment Clause, it were appropriate to give weight to religious views in evaluating and applying the Constitution’s secular promise of equal protection."

"Were the federal government to start recognizing the lawful civil marriages of same-sex couples– as it does interfaith marriages, interracial marriages, and re-marriages after divorce – religions that disapprove of such unions would remain free to define religious marriage however they wish. They could withhold spiritual blessing of such marriages and
indeed bar those entering into them from being congregants at all, just as they are now free to do so on grounds of faith, race, prior marital status, or any other characteristic deemed religiously significant. Amici urging reversal fail to explain how their religious practice would be burdened by the fact that
other people are afforded equal marriage rights by the state. For example, the brief of amici Liberty, Life
and Law Foundation and North Carolina Values Coalition scarcely even touches on the actual legal
consequences of recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples. Instead, it focuses on fears of having to
“endorse or facilitate” marriages of same-sex couples [...]"

And it keeps going.

---

It was a minor miracle of timing that the law office asked us to sign on just a few weeks before our gathering; and the deadline for our decision was three days after the gathering ended. A few weeks in either direction and we would have not been able to sign on as a friend of the court, since our group only meets twice a year.

And a final note: This law firm, Kramer Levin, has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights and cases for almost 20 years. melted_snowball pointed out to me that one of the three founders, Arthur Kramer, was a character in his brother Larry's autobiographical play, The Normal Heart. The two brothers had an enormous falling out in the mid 80s when Arthur Kramer would not lend his name to Larry's anti-AIDS activist group, Gay Men's Health Crisis, only offering personal support of his gay brother. Larry saw this as a cop-out; in the play, they remain estranged until Larry's death (though it seems that in real life they had some limited rapprochement).

And so this is a small part in a long story. And it keeps going.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
elainegrey
Mar. 1st, 2013 04:55 am (UTC)
Yay!
da_lj
Mar. 2nd, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)
Yay!

...and you can never ever change those link locations, 'cause they are part of HISTORY now. ;)
songquake
Mar. 1st, 2013 05:56 am (UTC)
Directed here by elainegrey, and so thrilled to see that Friends (and other religious groups) have signed onto an amicus brief calling bullshit on the idea that all religions detest similar-gender marriages.

Also glad that Spirit moved those at the Gathering to come to unity so quickly. That's lovely to behold.
ckd
Mar. 1st, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
Other amici in these cases: my employer and my city of residence. I'm proud of both of 'em.
da_lj
Mar. 2nd, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
Awesome!

A family I know was one of the cases noted in many footnotes of one amicus, for their attempts to legally adopt.
mynatt
Mar. 1st, 2013 12:56 pm (UTC)
Nicely done!
This one's starting to feel inevitable to me, but like Andy Warhol said, "They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." Good on you for being a part of this.
lillibet
Mar. 1st, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST
ASSOCIATION; UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST;


Both the faith community in which I was raised and the one I have chosen are also on board!

This is great stuff--so exciting! Let the tide turn!
da_lj
Mar. 2nd, 2013 04:58 am (UTC)
Excellent!

(Side note: I didn't know, until I read the brief, that both UUs and UCCs "trace their history directly to the Puritans of New England". ...which made sense when my mom explained as the reaction to Calvinism... I expect dan knew that already; but he's waay over in California...)

lillibet
Mar. 2nd, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they are both inheritors of the established New England church. That's one of the reasons that UU has been so comfortable for me--the congregational system is the same, the services are very similarly organized, and even many of the hymns are the same tunes, although the changes to the lyrics have gone down separate paths. The UUs occasionally joke that UCC stands for "UUs Consisdering Christ" :)

I really should start planning a trip to your area--I feel as though the things I'd talk with you about are piling up.
melted_snowball
Mar. 1st, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC)
I'm really proud of you. It's so cool that the Friends for LGBTQ Concerns website will be (forever!) in the Supreme Court's records. :-)
dcseain
Mar. 1st, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
Way cool!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )