In an amicus brief last week, the attorneys general of 15 state that have legalized same-sex marriage asked the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality. Minnesota was one of four states that did not sign the brief. It’s the second time that Minnesota has not joined other marriage equality states in filing a brief.
The brief argued, “States do not need more time to ‘experiment’ with marriage equality or study its side effects.” The brief was led by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley and was signed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington.
The brief was filed in Rainey vs. Bostic, the Virginia marriage equality case. The state of Virginia has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal appeals court upheld a ruling finding that state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
“The Court should settle this important issue to ensure equal access to marriage because the continued exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the institution of marriage is unconstitutional and the harm suffered by these couples and their families is significant,” the attorneys general wrote. “Same-sex couples and their families are harmed legally, economically, and socially by being denied access to critical rights ranging from intestate inheritance to guaranteed access to healthcare benefits to joint filing of tax returns. They also suffer physical and psychological harm as a result of their second-class status.”
The only states that have legalized same-sex marriage but did not sign on were New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Minnesota.
Though New Hampshire and Rhode Island were missing from the Supreme Court brief, they had signed on to a similar one filed in the marriage equality cases in Oklahoma and Utah.
Minnesota and New Jersey are the only two states where gay marriage is legal to not have sent a brief in support of marriage equality.
New Jersey’s acting attorney general, Republican John Jay Hoffman, opposes same-sex marriage.
Minnesota’s attorney general Lori Swanson, a DFLer, has declined to state why Minnesota hasn’t signed on to either brief.
In March, a petition was launched urging Swanson to sign on to marriage equality briefs. That petition says: “It’s important that Minnesota, who fought off a state constitutional amendment banning marriage for some Minnesota Citizens, and who then granted the rights, privileges and responsibility of civil marriage to all its citizens, to affirm our state’s support of equal protection under the law in other states.”
In addition to the petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality, another 16 states’ attorneys general are asking the court to finally decide the issue once and for all, but not persuading the court to take a particular stance. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The brief asked the Supreme Court to take up the cases in Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma.
All of Minnesota’s neighbors have either asked the court to grant marriage equality (Iowa), or asked the court to settle the issue (Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota).