Attorney General Supporting Marriage Equality
Before U.S. Supreme Court
Attorney General George Jepsen said Connecticut has joined more than a dozen other states on two friend-of- the-court briefs supporting marriage equality in cases scheduled to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court later this month.
The first amicus brief, filed by Massachusetts today on behalf of 13 states and the District of Columbia in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, argues that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it defines marriage in that state as only between a man and a woman. In February, 2012, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
A second amicus brief is to be filed Friday by New York and Massachusetts in support of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in U.S. v. Windsor. The appellate court found that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married under the laws of their state.
“Discrimination based on sexual orientation has no place in our society or under our laws,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm these decisions and recognize the same equal protection rights for all married couples.” Connecticut law has recognized same-sex marriage since 2009.
The Windsor case is especially important in Connecticut, Jepsen said, because it affirms the rights of all married couples to equal benefits under federal law, including the economic benefits of filing a joint tax return or receiving a survivor’s benefit from Social Security.
In Windsor, the Internal Revenue Service denied Ms. Windsor a refund on federal estate taxes when her same-sex spouse died—a refund she would have received had her spouse been of the opposite sex. While the state of New York recognized the couple’s marriage, the IRS denied the refund under section 3 of DOMA. Section 3 declares that any time “marriage” or “spouse” appears in any federal law, it only applies to a marriage of a man and a woman.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Hollingsworth v. Perry on March 26 and U.S. v. Windsor on March 27.
Connecticut joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia on the Hollingsworth amicus brief. They include: Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The Attorney General of California filed a separate brief in support of equal marriage rights.
In addition to Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, 12 other states and the District of Columbia are signing on to the amicus brief in Windsor. They include California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Solicitor General Gregory D’Auria and Assistant Attorney General Jane Rosenberg are assisting the Attorney General in these cases.