A big week at the Supreme Court

As Director of Public Policy, I wanted to update you on Family Equality Council’s leading role around the  two days of oral arguments in the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases last week.  

It’s clear the voices of our children were at the forefront of Justice Kennedy’s thinking.  Last Tuesday in the Prop 8 arguments, he questioned the attorney arguing on behalf of the Prop 8 proponents and acknowledged that there is an “immediate” legal harm to those same-sex couples who cannot be married. He said the voice of thousands of children of same-sex couples is an important aspect of the case. In his words -“They want their parents to have full recognition and legal status…the voice of those children is considerable in this case, don’t you think?”

It’s  clear that Justice Kennedy read our amicus brief that elevates the voices of children. That friend of the court brief was filed with the Supreme Court just a few weeks ago and aimed to explain to the court the impact of equal marriage on the children of LGBT parents.

Last Wednesday, lawyer Robbie Kaplan presented arguments on behalf of Edie Windsor in the Defense of Marriage case.  Justice Scalia tried to maintain there was “considerable disagreement among sociologists” about whether gays and lesbians could be good parents. But In response to Justice Roberts’ question, Solicitor General Donald Verilli pointed to recent statements from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Sociological Association that the stabilizing effect of marriage is beneficial to all children.  In recent days, legal scholars have begun to argue that this central argument- that marriage protects children – may help be a major influence on the Supreme Court decision this June.  We are incredibly proud to have carried this message to the Supreme Court.  

We are also proud to have played a leading role in organizing a major rally outside the Supreme Court last week as part of the United for Marriage Coalition, as well as helping to coordinate over 170 local events in all 50 states! Together with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, The New Organizing Institute, HRC, GLAAD, and GetEqual we mobilized over 10,000 people in all 50 states and Washington, DC. 

At the Supreme Court rally, we worked to ensure that members of our Outspoken Generation were heard.  Outspoken Co-Chair Ella Robinson took the podium with her dad, Bishop Gene Robinson. Both spoke beautifully.  From New York, Outspoken member Aliya Shain and her moms inspired the crowd with their story. Sarah Gogin of California helped carry our message that love equals family. And Erika Scibelli of Boston drew cheers with her speech. 

Together they helped the Justices and the world hear our message: children of gay parents grow up in loving, safe, supportive families that they cherish. 

That message is being reinforced in the great media coverage over the last week in places like the Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, the Katie Couric Show and other outlets across the country.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the great show of love and support from families like yours.  No matter the outcome in June, we pledge to continue the fight  from the state house to the courthouse to ensure that we can enjoy the freedoms, protections and benefits that marriage provides to our families.    


Emily Hecht-McGowan