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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 7 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 10
20 Republicans say marriage bans are unconstitutional
Section One
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20 Republicans say marriage bans are unconstitutional

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Twenty prominent Republicans filed an amicus brief March 3 urging the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage.

Among those signing the brief were former U.S. Senators Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas.

The Tenth Circuit will soon hear cases from Utah and Oklahoma in which district courts have already ruled that laws banning same-sex marriage violate the rights of Gay and Lesbian couples. The appeals court has scheduled hearings on the Utah and Oklahoma cases for April.

If the Tenth Circuit upholds lower court rulings, same-sex marriage would effectively be legalized in states within the court's jurisdiction - Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

Like the district court judges who heard the original lawsuits, the Republican group cited constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law, proper limits to government's role in citizens' personal lives, and individual freedom, among other reasons for opposing marriage bans.

Unlike many of their Republican colleagues, the Republicans who signed the brief also said that allowing same-sex marriages would strengthen marriage as an institution.

'Marriage is strengthened and its benefits, importance to society, and the social stability of the family unit are promoted' through Gay and Lesbian marriages, the 33-page brief argued.

An amicus - or 'friend of the court' - brief may be filed by any number of people or organizations who want to influence a pending court decision, but are not parties to the case.

In this case, the amicus brief was initiated by Sean Gallagher, a Denver lawyer and former chief counsel for Mitt Romney's Colorado campaign. Gallagher said it reflects changing attitudes of conservatives, moderates, and libertarians in Western states.

'Traditionally, there have been concerns that [same-sex marriage] will affect the integrity of the family or will affect the ability to raise kids. The reality is there is no objective proof of that,' Gallagher told Reuters in an interview.

There is growing momentum for a legalization of same-sex marriage in the Western region and across the United States, with judges striking down restrictions in several states including New Mexico, Virginia, and Texas.

The mood is reflected in polling, too, with support for marriage equality surging in the ten years since it first became legal in Massachusetts. Just more than half of Americans now support the idea. In all, 17 states plus the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, including eight states where it became legal in 2013.

Gallagher said the changes are largely generational.

'If you talk to people under the age of 30, Gay marriage is just not an issue - whether they are Republicans or Democrats,' he said.

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