Supreme Court sets April date for marriage equality cases
The U.S. Supreme Court has set a date to hear oral arguments on a quartet of cases that are expected to shape the national scope of marriage equality. The nine justices have penned April 28 on the court calendar, and LGBT supporters of the United Church of Christ have done the same as they make plans to visibly call for the absolute freedom to marry for people in every state.
“It’s time for the [Supreme Court] to make a decision for justice and equality for everyone,” said the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer.
Schuenemeyer, UCC executive for health and wholeness advocacy, explained the UCC’s interest in the cases.
“Nearly 10 years ago, the General Synod adopted the resolution to support and affirm marriage equality for all people,” he said. “It also called on our leaders to do exactly what we are doing—to oppose the laws that restrict the freedom to marry.”
The General Synod and Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC also plan to sign on to an ecumenical amicus brief to the Supreme Court, declaring with other faith communities their stance as religious supporters of marriage equality.
The Supreme Court announced in January that it would hear arguments on marriage bans from the four states in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
The Sixth Circuit ruled in November that those bans against same-gender marriages were constitutional, creating a split among the federal rulings. The circuit is the only appeals court to uphold state same-sex marriage bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuit courts all have ruled that same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.
The Supreme Court ruling on the issue could come down in late June, likely just before the beginning of the UCC’s General Synod 2015 in Cleveland, as the church prepares to celebrate the anniversaries of two major milestones in its LGBT equality movement. As Schuenemeyer explained, this summer marks the 10th anniversary of the denomination becoming the first mainline church to affirm equal marriage rights. It is also the 30th anniversary of a resolution calling UCC congregations to become open and affirming of all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Supporters of LGBT equality also have a chance to join an unprecedented public brief to the Supreme Court. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is collecting signatures for the “People’s Brief,” authored by Roberta Kaplan. She is the civil rights litigator who won the landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. The “People’s Brief” campaign allows any American who has read the brief and agrees with its contents to sign on and show their support for marriage equality directly to the Supreme Court.
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