You Can File a Supreme Court Brief in Marriage Cases

The Human Rights Campaign is offering a unique opportunity, the chance to have your name on a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Michigan case challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. They’re calling it The People’s Brief and you can have your name attached to it.

This week, HRC launched an historic effort to give every American a chance to share their support of marriage equality with the Supreme Court of the United States.

By signing onto The People’s Brief, your name will go down in history, and on this landmark document, as a supporter of marriage equality.

Already, thousands of Americans, including soccer star Robbie Rogers, Mayor Cory Booker and Iron Chef Cat Cora, have stood in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide. Sign The People’s Brief now.

I think that’s pretty cool. I’ve had my name on legal briefs before, but not in such a historic case. And I love this quote from Justice Kennedy’s ruling in Lawrence v Texas:

Times can blind us to certain truths. Later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact only serve to oppress.

Looking forward to reading similar things in this ruling at the end of June.

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  • John Pieret

    IAAL, and I have read the brief and it is well written, cogent in its arguments and effectively counters the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal that upheld state bans of same-sex marriage.

    You have to be an American citizen or permanent resident of the US or one of its territories. You have to swear you have read the brief, which is 47 pages long, but it is not so onerous as that may sound. You can skip or skim the preliminary matters (the meat begins on page 13) and, of course, you do not have to read or check the numerous case references.

    To me the best part was the ending:

    Finally, it is not insignificant that petitioner James Obergefell from Ohio merely seeks to have the state correct the facts asserted on the death certificate of his late spouse, John Arthur. The two men were, in fact, married under the law of Maryland where their marriage was performed. It is absurd to contend that refusing to certify that a decedent was “married” to his spouse at the time of his death could possibly influence child rearing, or the willingness of straight couples to marry, or even offend tradition. But actions speak louder than words. Ohio insists that there must be a blank space on Mr. Arthur’s death certificate where Mr. Obergefell’s name should be. Not content to deny these men the equal protection of the law in life, it also seeks to deny them dignity even in death. Ohio’s decision to reject this reasonable request to correct a factually inaccurate death certificate speaks volumes about what is really going on, leaving no doubt that the true motivation behind these laws is constitutionally impermissible animus against gay people.

    I was proud to put my name to that brief and I hope that every person of good will do the same!

  • themadtapper

    @ John Pieret #1

    That is a masterfully written paragraph. It perfectly highlights the utterly indefensible nature of such laws.

  • colnago80

    Um, Cory Booker is now the junior senator from New Jersey.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Yeah, it’s probably a good brief. It’s probably a brief whose content I could support. And I’m sure I’ll read it sometime soon.

    But I’m not signing on to an HRC brief. HRC can polish themselves with egg white, standing gleaming in the sun until it dries into a rigid, sparkly crust, and they still couldn’t possibly make themselves attractive enough to convince me to forget about their slimy, slimy past.

  • opie

    Crip Dyke, what slimy past? I did a few quick Google searches and I came up dry. Do enlighten, please. I’ve always thought HRC was pretty good.

  • John Pieret


    Check out its Wikipedia article under “controversies.” There is stuff in there that I didn’t know before that is probably the source of Crip Dyke’s anger.

  • Michael Heath

    Crip Dyke writes:

    I’m not signing on to an HRC brief. […] . . . [HRC] still couldn’t possibly make themselves attractive enough to convince me to forget about their slimy, slimy past.

    I eagerly signed-on. It’s self-evident to me that signing the brief puts one squarely on the side of equality. It’s also self-evident to me that signing the brief doesn’t necessarily mean I someone take on HRC’s baggage.

    I see also see no reason to think signing this doc means one by default forgets about their past as you claim Crip Dyke. I point this out as a long-time Andrew Sullivan reader where Mr. Sullivan was diligent in exposing HRC’s failings over the years.

  • marcus

    While I can certainly understand Crip Dyke’s disaffection with the HRC I see this as taking a stand and being counted as someone who supports marriage equality and equal rights for all, let me reiterate, all. I do not see it as a referendum of support for HRC.

  • matty1

    @6 I think wikipedia must have been edited since you saw read that page, this is what I get and it doesn’t even have a section called controversies. There is a ‘criticism’ section but it is brief and none of the things listed sound that bad to me, anyone got some more pointers?

  • John Pieret


    That’s what I was thinking of. Some people might think it’s treatment of transgender issues and its political maneuvering was slimy.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    To be clear:

    No, I don’t think it’s a referendum on HRC per se. No, I don’t think that signing on requires that one endorse every other thing HRC has done in the past. And, finally, no, I don’t believe that anyone signing on is doing a specific disservice to trans folk or others. It’s perfectly reasonable to sign on to “taking a stand and being counted” or because one simply believes in the content of the brief. And of course one can sign on and still believe in equality for all.

    I have taken many stands, however, and don’t need this one to go down in history as on the right side of this issue. If I had a public identity such that merely adding my name would lend credibility to the brief, I might sign on despite HRC’s past actions. (though I might be even more likely in such an absurd case to write my own).

    But HRC has poisoned the well for me. I, frankly, don’t trust that their actions are for equality generally. It may be unfair to the current HRC, but from the 90s when they kicked off/forced off/made unwelcome a board member for being into the leather/SM scene* (which triggered their first ever trans* board member to quit in solidarity) all through the days when they used “we’re just like you!” as a rhetorical strategy (which, of course, required them to throw any folk not “just like” straight suburbanites under the bus) including the MoW and EBAH and that nightmare as well as their treatment of trans* people to this day, I just don’t trust them and am unwilling to participate in their initiatives.

    *This was all very much on the down-low, and some insist that the leather/SM board member was simply uncomfortable in HRC’s culture and left entirely voluntarily. I, personally, don’t give a shit: HRC has a culture that makes people so uncomfortable that even when the stakes are positive and important that leather/SM folks don’t feel like they can stick around? Hell, that’s already a failure even before you get to what other individual board members might have said/done to make the departure inevitable or even to make it feel like a “firing”. I was very much involved in overlapping communities with HRC in the 90s and have some personal info on this situation, but I don’t at all trust that I have “the Truth”. I just know that I know enough to be confident that HRC’s behavior was bad.

  • opie

    Crip Dyke

    That’s very interesting. I can imagine, given the state of the discourse in the 90s and given the arguments that the LBGT movement was trying to make, that leather/SM folks were probably excluded from HRC. I’m interested to know whether HRC had a public stance that was either explicitly inclusive or explicitly dismissive of leather/SM folks. It is one thing to be explicitly dismissive. It is entirely another to state you are inclusive but really be dismissive.

  • marcus

    Dear Crip Dyke, Thanks for explaining and increasing my understanding.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @opie & marcus:

    I appreciate having people invested in learning new things who take the time to read what I write as if it’s useful to that agenda (you’ve made clear that this time it’s useful to the agenda, but no one bats 1.000 …and you can’t know if it will/won’t be useful til you read).


    I framed my earlier statements in this thread precisely and carefully as a personal perspective affecting my personal willingness. Michael Heath’s response, however, made me worried that some people might think I’m criticizing people who lend their name to this brief or otherwise participate at the margins of HRC. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    For anyone not involved in the management of HRC’s political direction but who happens to give money to them or who happens to sign on to this brief: I’ve got nothing but respect for you. We can’t all be experts in everything, and even if we were, we couldn’t possibly have exactly the same ethics and priorities without being psychic clones. Think of the horror of A Wrinkle In Time, for instance. The fact that folks do their best anyway and give money to projects that they have reason to believe will create a more just world, that’s just plain awesome.

    However much my relationship with HRC has been poisoned, there’s no reason to think that they can’t change, and every reason to think that they are constantly changing. If my resources for dealing with that organization are exhausted, then, frankly, I need those of you who aren’t exhausted and who still see value in HRC to be part of changing them for the better over time. So good on y’all.