Prominent members of the US Republican Party have signed a legal briefing in support of gay marriage.
More than 75 members of the ‘Grand Old Party’ have signed an ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of the court) briefing claiming that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Signatories include former senior members of the Bush and Reagan governments, as well as four former Republican governors and two members of the US Congress, according to a report in the New York Times.
The briefing declares that “there is no legitimate, fact-based justification for different legal treatment of committed relationships between same-sex couples,” and argues that:
“Amici [the signatories] start from the premise—recognized by this Court on at least fourteen occasions—that marriage is both a fundamental right protected by our Constitution and a venerable institution that confers countless benefits, both to those who marry and to society at large. It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that amici do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.”
The briefing will be sent to the US Supreme Court later this week, as the latter formally considers the legality of Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California later overturned as unconstitutional by US judge Vaughn Walker.
The decision to sign sets supporters of the brief against House of Representatives Speaker John A Boehner.
Meanwhile, US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed a submission with the Supreme Court on Friday in a separate gay rights case, this one concerning the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law which excludes same sex couples from government benefits.
Verrilli wrote that the Act:
“…targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society.”
“It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest. The statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Constitution therefore requires that [the Defense of Marriage Act] be invalidated.”