Hogan Lovells files multiple amicus briefs in landmark marriage-equality cases

Hogan Lovells has filed multiple amicus briefs in the landmark marriage-equality cases US v Windsor and Hollingsworth v Perry, each decided by the Supreme Court on 26 June, the last day of its term.

One team of lawyers, led by Chris Handman (partner, Washington, DC) and Dom Perella (associate, Washington, DC), drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League in support of the respondents in Perry. This brief, joined by 18 other amici, argued that religious and moral disapproval are illegitimate justifications for upholding California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment providing that ‘only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California’.

A second team, led by appellate practice group co-director Cate Stetson (partner, Washington, DC), along with Erica Knievel Songer (associate, Washington, DC) and Mary Helen Wimberly (associate, Washington, DC), filed briefs for the Organization of American Historians and the American Studies Association in support of the respondents both in Perry and Windsor — a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Section 3 provided a federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and denied many federal benefits to married same-sex couples. The Perry and Windsor amici briefs provided a detailed history of the severe discrimination gay men and lesbians have faced over the past century and chronicled the pernicious discriminatory treatment that continues to this day.

In addition, Sheree Kanner (partner, Washington, DC) and Marcy Wilder (partner, Washington, DC) consulted on an amicus brief filed by former cabinet secretaries, commissioners and senior administrative agency officials in Windsor. This brief discredited the notion that DOMA is justified by the federal government’s interest in having a uniform definition of marriage in the administration of federal programmes, as federal agencies routinely have looked to disparate state marriage laws when administering federal programmes.

The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Perry, with a 5-4 majority, concluding that the defenders of Proposition 8 did not have standing to appeal the trial court’s decision striking down the amendment; the court’s decision has the effect of letting that trial-court decision stand. A different 5-4 majority of the court struck down the DOMA provision under challenge, concluding that it violated the constitutional rights of legally married gays and lesbians.

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