Brief Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Gets More Republican Support

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Correction Appended

More than two dozen Republicans -- including a top adviser to Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee -- have added their names to a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to declare that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.

The brief comes as the White House is considering whether to weigh in on the same-sex marriage case; at this point, the Republicans who signed the document are taking a more expansive stance than President Obama, who favors same-sex marriage but has said he would leave it to the states, as opposed to making it a constitutional right.

The list of Republicans on the brief now tallies more than 100, organizers say. It now includes Beth Myers, who ran Mr. Romney's 2008 campaign and was a senior adviser to him in 2012; Charles Bass, a former member of Congress from New Hampshire; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist who advised Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Also on the list is B. J. Nikkel, who made national news last year when she became the only Republican on the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of same-sex civil unions. She previously worked as district director for Representative Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman whose signature issue in Washington was banning same-sex marriage.

The brief, organized by Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who is gay, will be filed on Thursday as a friend-of-the-court, or amicus, brief to a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that forbids same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The landmark case will be heard alongside a request that the court overturn the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage for the purposes of federal law as the union between a man and a woman.

Mr. Obama strongly supports the repeal of the defense of marriage law, and has instructed his Justice Department not to defend it in court. His move prompted the House speaker, John A. Boehner, and the House Republican leadership to authorize the expenditure of tax dollars to defend the law; Mr. Boehner, who is personally opposed to same-sex marriage, has said he believes it is up to the Supreme Court, not the Obama administration, to determine the constitutionality of the measure.

Last week, the administration filed its brief in the Defense of Marriage case, asking the court to declare the measure unconstitutional. The brief notes that same-sex couples may already legally marry in some states and argues that singling them out is "a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society."

But the administration has been far more cautious in the Proposition 8 case. A White House official said Tuesday morning that no decision had been made on whether to file an amicus brief; the deadline is Thursday. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday evening that the administration was still weighing its decision, and was "looking at options that fall short of embracing a constitutional right'' to same-sex marriage.

Mr. Obama has made supporting same-sex marriage a central theme in his recent speeches, including his second inaugural address, and has often stated that Americans ought to have equal rights, "no matter who you love." He announced during his re-election campaign last year that, after months of saying his views were "evolving," he had concluded that gay couples ought to be allowed to marry.

But in announcing that decision, Mr. Obama said he believed the issue would be "worked out at the local level," because marriage has traditionally been the province of the states, not the federal government.

That position enrages many gay rights activists, who view it as immoral and note that it was the same explanation opponents of interracial marriage once used to prevent couples like Mr. Obama's own parents from marrying.

The elder Obamas married in 1961 in Hawaii, which permitted interracial unions. But it was not until the landmark Loving v. Virginia case -- decided in 1967, when Mr. Obama was 6 -- that the Supreme Court declared interracial marriage a constitutional right and overturned a Virginia ban.

Correction: February 27, 2013, Wednesday

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously included one Republican among the more than two dozen who have added their names to legal brief supporting same-sex marriage. Former Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado, was not one of them.  (A former district director for Ms. Musgrave signed the brief.)  The article also referred incorrectly to a brief filed last week in the Defense of Marriage case.  The brief was filed by the administration, for its own case; the government did not file an "amicus brief."

nation

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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