With a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled to hear Wednesday a landmark same-sex marriage appeal including Tennessee’s law, groups representing law enforcement officers, military families, psychologists, lawmakers and others have filed more than two dozen friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, reports the News Sentinel.
Twenty-six of those briefs support recognizing gay marriage in Tennessee. Three back the state’s ban on it.
Many of the same organizations, none of whom are parties in the case but still have an interest in the outcome, also have filed briefs in the Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio case. Cases in those states are also scheduled for oral arguments on Aug. 6 at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
The amicus briefs delve into business, history, mental health and politics, and touch on topics ranging from child-rearing and threats to national security and religious freedom.
Some groups filing are among those you would expect: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League, and the North Carolina Values Coalition. Others represent individuals or groups of people who are not typically associated with gay rights, like churches, law enforcement and major private corporations such as Starbucks
The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ and activist groups comprised of Mormons, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Jews and other religions and denominations joined in a brief arguing that affirming same-sex marriages would not interfere with congregations’ ability to practice their own faith.
In fact, the brief points out, some religions have already disallowed marriages that are otherwise legal: Conservative Judaism prohibits interfaith marriages, the Mormon church once discouraged interracial marriages and the Roman Catholic Churches teaches that remarriage of divorced spouses is not permitted under God’s law.
Two separate briefs — one filed by law enforcement officers and another by military personnel and their families — both argue that gay and lesbian soldiers and first responders put their lives on the line and should be given equal recognition.
…But for all the briefs filed against the state, at least one brief is made up of its own: Tennessee state lawmakers.
The brief was filed by the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is affiliated with the Family Action Council of Tennessee.
Thirty-seven state representatives, 16 senators and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, all Republicans, signed the brief. Among them are Knoxville lawmakers Rep. Harry Brooks, Rep. Bill Dunn and Sen. Stacey Campfield.
In their brief, the lawmakers dismiss the idea that a ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory. Instead, they argue the question at hand — whether Tennessee must recognize marriage licenses in other states — “depends on whether a sovereign state can determine for itself the definition of marriage within its own borders. “
Their answer, of course, is yes — it is up to the people of Tennessee to decide whether marriage should include same-sex marriage.
Note: The News Sentinel’s Megan Boenke also has a lengthy report on the overall Tennessee case, focused on a Knoxville same-sex couple who are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. An excerpt:
A three-judge panel is slated this week to hear oral arguments in the case — or at least on a preliminary injunction in the case — before a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Each side will get 15 minutes. On that same afternoon the panel will hear similar landmark cases, albeit ones further along, from Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio.
The circuit will become the third federal court of appeals to hear same-sex marriage cases, with the 10th Circuit overturning bans in Oklahoma and Utah earlier this summer. The 4th Circuit, in a July decision affecting the entire circuit, overturned a Virginia ban on same-sex marriages, and the 7th Circuit is slated to hear oral arguments on cases out of Indiana and Wisconsin late this month.