The issue of same-sex marriage is before the Supreme Court of the United States, and Indiana has authored one amicus brief and co-authored another arguing that the states should be able to define marriage.
The briefs in U.S. v. Windsor, 12-307, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, 12-144, were filed Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sixteen states joined the Indiana brief in Windsor; 17 states joined the Hollingsworth brief, which was co-authored by Virginia.
In Windsor, the U.S. justices are being asked to decide whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7, violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
“Because the same equal protection principles generally apply to state and federal laws … it requires no great leap of logic to conclude that a judicial rejection of DOMA would erode constitutional support for similar state laws,” states the Windsor brief, which was drafted by Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher. He argues that the amici states have two interests at stake in this case: protecting their own power to define marriage in the traditional manner and clarifying equal protection principles that apply to marriage laws.
In Hollingsworth, in which the question before the court is whether a state can define marriage as between one man and one woman, the states argue that they have an interest in protecting their ability to define and regulate marriage and preserving the integrity of their constitutions and democratic processes. The case stems from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court struck down California’s Proposition 8 that amended the state constitution to say that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller released a statement Tuesday on the cases, saying, “The State of Indiana has been a leader in advocating generally for the legal authority of states to determine their own marriage license definitions and specifically for the traditional marriage definition of one man and one woman. Our briefs filed before the U.S. Supreme Court defend the authority of other states to define marriage – including those nine states that legally recognize same-sex couples – and also defend the traditional marriage definition that underpins traditional family structure and is of central legal importance to our state.
“This legal position does not discriminate against the right of any individual to choose their partner nor discourage same-sex couples from providing loving and stable family environments for children. It is a defense of the legal ability of the people through their elected representatives to make a policy choice. As Indiana’s Attorney General, I respect the U.S. Supreme Court’s role in determining this important constitutional question and will respect their decision as is my duty as an officer of the court.”
Arguments in the two cases are scheduled for March 26 and 27, with the court expected to rule by the end of June.