Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined a coalition of states in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Constitution requires marriage equality nationwide. The brief was filed in conjunction with challenges to the state laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that ban marriages between same-sex couples and refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed by other states.
"Marriage equality is not only about ensuring everyone has the same rights and privileges by law. It is about upholding the principles this country was founded on, that all individuals are equal," Attorney General Madigan said. "This fight will not end until every couple in the United States, regardless of where they reside, has the right to marry."
The states' brief argues that the continued refusal by some states to license or recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples inflicts widespread harm on these couples and their families. Major life decisions made by married same-sex couples, including decisions about education, employment and residency, are affected by the non-recognition of their marriages. The brief details examples of the harms same-sex couples encounter in states that do not recognize their marriage, including the refusal to amend a child's birth certificate to include both spouses, employers' denial of healthcare coverage for spouses, or being barred from making medical decisions or visiting a spouse in the hospital.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led the filing of the amicus, which was joined by Madigan and Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Attorneys General from Hawaii, Minnesota and Virginia each filed separate briefs in support of same-sex marriage.
These briefs were submitted in the cases of Obergefell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear, all on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the cases on April 28, 2015.
This is the third amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage Attorney General Madigan has filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Previously, Madigan filed amicus briefs in the cases that sought to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Madigan long has fought for equal rights for the LGTB community. She has publicly supported marriage equality since her term in the Illinois State Senate, and as Attorney General, she has advocated for expanding legal rights at the state and federal levels. She was a strong supporter of a change to Illinois' Human Rights Act in 2005 to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And she has long advocated that the same protections be provided at the federal level. In 2009, she testified before the U. S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urging lawmakers to follow Illinois' lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to extend anti-discrimination workplace protections to the millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country. Also on the federal level, she lobbied in support of the passage of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act to expand federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, gender and gender identity.
In Illinois, Attorney General Madigan became the first state constitutional officer to provide health benefits to same-sex partners. The Attorney General also lobbied heavily for passage of state legislation recognizing civil unions and later to legalize same-sex marriage. She also intervened in the Cook County Circuit Court in support of same-sex couples suing for the right to marry. Madigan has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice to convene summits around Illinois to discuss emerging legal strategies and law enforcement techniques aimed at improving investigations and the prosecution of crimes motivated by hatred and bias.