NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION JOINS AMICUS CURIAE
ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CASES BEFORE U.S. SUPREME COURT
The New York State Bar Association has joined two amicus curiae, or
“friend of the court,” briefs that urge the U.S. Supreme
Court to strike down restrictions on same-sex marriage.
“A nation that promises equal justice to all cannot sanction
discrimination against any group of people,” said State Bar
President Seymour W. James, Jr. (The Legal Aid Society in New York
City). “The Defense of Marriage Act permits the federal government
to deny gay and lesbian married couples the legal rights that it grants
to heterosexual married couples. Such blatant discrimination violates
the U.S. Constitution.”
On March 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Windsor v.
U.S. The case involves Edie Windsor, a New York woman who married Thea
Spyer in Canada in 2007. After Spyer died, Windsor was required to pay
federal estate taxes on her inheritance, because the federal government
does not recognize same-sex marriages. The case challenges Section 3 of
the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the grounds that it violates
the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by defining
“marriage” exclusively as the legal union between a man and
A day earlier, on March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral
arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry. It challenges California’s
Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriages in the state. The case
was brought by two same-sex couples who were denied wedding licenses
under the law. The amicus brief argues that Proposition 8 is
unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due
Process clauses of the Constitution.
In reviewing the equal protection claims, the court should adopt a
standard of heightened scrutiny, argue the briefs filed in both cases.
“Gay people have experienced a long and painful history of
deliberate discrimination and this discrimination is based on a factor
unrelated to their ability to perform in or contribute to
In addition to the New York State Bar Association, the briefs were
joined by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, various
other bar associations, other human rights groups and legal service
organizations. The briefs were prepared by Fulbright & Jaworski of
Houston, Texas and Washington, D.C.