Amicus Brief Filed On Four Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Cases Presents Voices Of Children

“My moms have been as married as they can be for almost 20 years; growing up, I was often the only one of my friends whose parents weren’t divorced.  I laugh at the thought of a ‘gay lifestyle,’ because other than being led by two women, my family is about as traditional as it gets. After I told one woman about my parents, she prefaced her response with, ‘Well understand, I’m a straight, conservative Christian raised in the South.’ I replied, ‘Yes, ma’am. So am I.’” — Kinsey Morrison, 18, from Kentucky

Washington, DC — Today the Family Equality Council, COLAGE and Kentucky youth Kinsey Morrison — representing the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and the six million children and adults with LGBT parents — filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of challenges to marriage bans for same-sex couples out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The Court will hear oral arguments on April 28.

In these four states, there are more than 18,000 children being raised by same-sex parents. The amicus brief, authored by pro bono counsel at Bryan Cave LLP, highlights the voices of children and young adults raised by same-sex couples. It asks the Court to consider the unique perspectives of children for whom the unavailability of marriage for their parents affects their legal standing and self-esteem. The youth at the heart of this brief assert that their parents are no less deserving of marital protections and privileges than families with different-sex parents.

“The point is not that families with same-sex parents are perfect,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy for Family Equality Council. “The point is that same-sex couples are raising children in every state across the country. These families exist and should be treated equally under the law.”

Adds William J. Hibsher, Senior Counsel at Bryan Cave LLP, “The stories in the amicus brief illustrate the stigma and deprivation that families in these four states face every day.”

Among the personal accounts included in the brief:

  • “Tomorrow, I could marry a stranger, divorce him in 72 days like Kim Kardashian, and get married five more times after that, like both my straight grandmother and straight grandfather did. Yet my moms, who promised each other their forevers two decades ago, who have raised three children and built their lives together, who embody the sanctity of a lifelong commitment every day — they cannot get married.” – Kinsey Morrison, 18, from Kentucky
  • “They loved me, and that was all that mattered. It’s all that should matter. Indeed, my childhood as the son of lesbian parents was extraordinary in that it was simply ordinary. I went to public school and had lots of friends. I was on the varsity swim team and rooted for the Ole Miss Rebels.” – Will Miller, 28
  • My success is not a reason why my parents or any other gay couple should be able to have their families recognized by the law. They would be no less deserving if I had dropped out of high school or fallen victim to substance abuse or found myself in otherwise less than ideal circumstances. Our families should be recognized simply because we are humans with the same rights as everyone else. We are families, and treatment of us as anything else is discrimination.” – Anna Frackman, 25
  • You don’t think that a simple piece of paper designating your parents as ‘married’ can have a tangible difference on the bond you have with them — but it does. I watched decades of marginalization of my family fall away in the moment that the judge pronounced them as husband and husband.” – Jenny Rain, 44

In addition, the brief includes the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth who will themselves be the next generation of LGBT parents. “The state-sanctioned marriage discrimination in these four states tells LGBT youth that they are less deserving and less valuable and they marginalize and alienate them from full participation in civic life,” added Hecht-McGowan.

As Matthew Pagnotti from Virginia says in the brief, “I don’t want to destroy or alter American society and values. I want to take part in them too.”


About Family Equality Council®:  Family Equality Council® connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated—including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren that reaches across this country. For over 30 years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.