SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Republican lawmakers and leaders from across the western United States filed a “friend of the court” brief, backing same-sex marriage in Utah.
The group, includes former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson; former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum; former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson; and members of the Salt Lake County Republican Party.
“Amici are Western conservatives, moderates and libertarians who embrace the individual freedoms protected by our Constitution. They embrace Ronald Reagan’s belief that the Republican Party must be a ‘big tent,'” the amicus brief says. “Though they hail from diverse backgrounds, they share a common belief in the importance of limited government, individual freedom and stable families.”
Those values, they wrote, “are advanced by recognizing civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.”
That brief is among dozens submitted on Tuesday in support of the plaintiffs who are fighting Utah’s appeal of federal judge’s ruling that declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional. The voter-approved constitutional amendment defines marriage as between a man and a woman and does not recognize anything else.Other groups weighed urged the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the ruling that overturned Amendment 3 and cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Utah. They included:
- The American Psychological Association and the Utah Psychological Association;
- The Cato Institute;
- The American Sociological Institute;
- The American Civil Liberties Union;
- 46 employers and businesses, many with roots in Utah;
- The Episcopal Diocese, Mormons for Equality, the United Church of Christ and some Jewish congregations;
- Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center;
- Alliance for a Better Utah;
- A coalition of constitutional law scholars and historians;
- Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders;
In its own amicus filing, 15 states plus the District of Columbia urged support for same-sex marriage. Many of the states allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, either by court ruling or legislative action.
“We speak from experience when describing the positive impact of the transition from marital exclusion to equality,” the amicus brief, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, stated. “We share a compelling interest in ensuring that all citizens have equal opportunity to participate in civic life, and we are committed to ensuring that the institution of marriage is strengthened by removing unnecessary and harmful barriers.”
The American Sociological Association attacked the research cited by the state of Utah, accusing it of misrepresenting studies.
“The Regnerus papers and other sources relied on by opponents of marriage for same-sex couples provide no basis for their arguments because they do not examine the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex parents,” the amicus filing said. “These studies therefore do not undermine the consensus from the social science research and do not establish a legitimate basis for the Marriage Bans.”
A coalition of local, national and international businesses joined forces to urge Utah’s same-sex marriage ban be defeated. They included: eBay, Facebook, Google, Hackman Capital Partners, Intel, Levi Strauss & Co., Oracle, Overstock.com, Pfizer, Qualcomm, Starbucks, Sun Life Financial and local businesses XMission and Tony Caputo’s Deli.
“State laws and constitutions that deny marriage to gay and lesbian citizens are bad for our businesses,” they wrote.
The amicus briefs, like those that were filed in support of traditional marriage earlier this year, are parties weighing in as the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers the Amendment 3 case.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office has one more opportunity to reply to the plaintiffs by March 11. Arguments in the case are set for April 10 in Denver.