John M. Becker

Corporations, Religious Groups File Dueling SCOTUS Briefs on Marriage

Filed By John M. Becker | September 07, 2014 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: briefs, gay marriage, legal briefs, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Supreme Court

supreme-court-side-view.jpgA group of thirty major corporations and a coalition of conservative religious groups have filed opposing briefs with the Supreme Court, asking the justices to settle the issue of marriage equality this next term.

The anti-LGBT religious groups are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The groups implored the justices to uphold the "tradition" of marriage discrimination, an argument that was memorably shredded at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals by Judge Richard Posner.

They also cited "religious freedom," which of course (in right-wing doublespeak, anyway) means the "freedom" of certain religious groups to write their private dogmas into civil law, and the so-called "right" for business owners to discriminate against LGBT people if they claim Jesus told them to.

"Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions. Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?"

The corporations, on the other hand, told the justices that America's uneven patchwork of state marriage laws -- some of which allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, others of which enforce a marriage discrimination -- is bad for business:

We are located or operate in states across the country, some of which recognize marriages of those of our employees whose spouses are of the same sex, and others that prohibit marriages between same-sex couples and refuse to recognize existing same-sex marriages. This dual and continuously shifting regime uniquely burdens amici. This legal uncertainty exposes us, as employers, to unnecessary cost, risk, and administrative complexity. In addition, this irresolution hampers our efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible, placing us at a competitive disadvantage. Our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction. The burden imposed by inconsistent state laws of having to administer complicated schemes to account for differential treatment of similarly situated employees creates unnecessary confusion, tension, and ultimately, diminished employee morale.

The companies -- which include Amazon.com, Ben & Jerry's, CBS, Deutsche Bank, eBay, General Electric, Intel, Levi Strauss, Nike, Oracle, Pfizer, Staples, Symantec, Target, and Viacom -- call the status quo "uncertain, unproductive, and unjust," and ask the Court to rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality.

Copies of both briefs are after the break, via Equality Case Files.

Catholic Bishops et al

Catholic Bishops et al Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

Pro-Equality Corporations

Employers' Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files

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