By Derrick DePledge
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief on Friday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting gay couples who are fighting bans on gay marriage in Hawaii and Nevada.
From the brief:
Civil marriage in the United States is an important and enduring institution. Throughout our nation’s history, marriage has maintained its essential role in society and has been strengthened, not weakened, by removing barriers to access and by creating greater equality between spouses.
Over the past decade, this evolution has continued as same-couples have been permitted to marry. Against that history of greater inclusion and equality, Nevada and Hawaii marriage laws single out same-sex couples and consign them to second-class status.
The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. Denying gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to wed the partner of their choosing offends basic principles of due process and equal protection, and fails to advance any legitimate governmental interest.
The appeals court is reviewing the Jackson v. Abercrombie challenge from Hawaii and a similar case from Nevada. Hawaii lawmakers meet in special session starting Monday to consider a gay marriage bill, which, if it is approved and becomes law, will make the legal challenge moot.
The states that signed on to the friend-of-the-court brief are Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, and the District of Columbia.
Gay marriage is legal in all of those states except for Illinois, New Mexico and Oregon.
Interest groups have also filed new briefs in support of gay couples, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Psychological Association.