FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2014
Liz Owen | [email protected] | (202) 657-4026
Liz Owen | [email protected] | (202) 657-4026
PFLAG NATIONAL REPRESENTS FAMILY VOICE IN MULTI-ORGANIZATION AMICUS BRIEF,
URGES SCOTUS TO RESOLVE THE FREEDOM TO MARRY, STOP DAILY HARM FOR FAMILIES
“ ...this brief includes stories of...a family, that experiences daily harm because of laws differing across jurisdictions. Only The Supreme Court can put a stop to this...”
WASHINGTON – PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for families, friends and allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)—joined a multi-organization amicus (“friend of the court”) brief, filed with The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in support of the three cases pending before it on the issue of the freedom to marry: Kitchen v. Herbert in Utah, Bishop v. Smith in Oklahoma and Bostic v. Rainey in Virginia. The new brief offers compelling reasons to merit requesting SCOTUS to grant certiorari (cert), which would order a lower court to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court, in this case SCOTUS, may review it. For these three cases, the reviewing court is SCOTUS, the highest federal court in the U.S. and the only court specifically established by the U.S. Constitution.
“We’re honored to be part of this multi-organization brief to express the urgent need for The Supreme Court to end the distress and daily harm that affects loving same-sex couples, their children and the families who love them,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby.
PFLAG National joined a number of organizations committed to the cause of LGBT equality: COLAGE, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, and Freedom to Marry in submitting this brief. Each supports the three compelling points made in the brief: that denying the freedom to marry imposes severe legal burdens and detriments on millions of Americans, every day and for no good reason; that marriage discrimination inflicts ongoing injury to the dignity and emotional well-being of millions of children, parents, and other family members; and that even when couples are able to marry in their home state, the patchwork of different state marriage laws inflicts ongoing injury to these couples and their families on a daily basis.
“Much like the brief we submitted to the Supreme Court last year in Hollingsworth v. Perry, this brief includes stories of families who experience daily harm because of laws differing across jurisdictions. Only The Supreme Court can put a stop to this,” Huckaby added. “We’re proud to stand with the families, organizations, and law firms who have also volunteered their experience and expertise to create this brief, which shows compellingly the daily harm from denying loving same-sex couples access to the freedom to marry, and we know that The Supreme Court can put an end to it, and we hope that this brief so compels them to do so with due urgency.”
Included in this amicus brief are Kris and Jason Morley-Nikfar, whose story was included in PFLAG’s amicus brief supporting Bostic v. Rainey. Their story focuses on this point in the new brief: the injury done to the families of loving same-sex couples when the laws governing a couple’s loving and legal commitment to each other vary from state to state. Kris and Jason have been in a loving and committed relationship for 12 years and married for 10; when they married, they legally changed their last names to “Morley-Nikfar.” After moving to states which ban marriage equality, Kris and Jason experienced repeated harm from official refusal to recognize their marriage. In Atlanta, DMV officials not only refused to accept their marriage license as valid proof of their name change, but loudly berated them saying they would have to go to court and obtain a “real” name change if they wanted accurate drivers’ licenses. And in Kris’s home state of Virginia, where the couple faced major legal obstacles to adopting children when they learned that Virginia permitted adoptions only by single people and those with recognized different-sex marriages.
“Our greatest thanks goes to Kris and Jason, and all of the families who so courageously tell their stories and share their lives so that the harm and degradation they experience every day, merely for being legally married and needing to be mobile, might soon end for them and countless others if SCOTUS agrees to hear one or more of these cases,” said Huckaby.
Huckaby also thanked the law firm Folger Levin, which has prepared all prior amici briefs for PFLAG National and would continue to represent PFLAG if any of its submissions for the case moves forward. Huckaby also offered high praise and thanks to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP -- especially Jeffrey S. Trachtman, Partner, Counsel of Record -- who so generously prepared this multi-organization brief, and each of the participating organizations who came together to present this brief.
“Jeff Trachtman’s special dedication in guiding this brief so quickly and thoroughly, while listening to, working with, and granting constant access to my staff as he once again worked with PFLAG National, having worked on an amicus brief for us 20 years ago on the Dale v. Boy Scouts case, really shows his passion as well as prowess to present this most important case of urgent need to halt families’ daily harm to the highest court in the land,” said Huckaby.
Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and allies uniting with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy. PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, visit pflag.org.
Editor’s Note: To speak with the PFLAG family represented in this amicus brief, please contact PFLAG National Communications Director Liz Owen.
The full set of PFLAG National’s briefs amici can be viewed at pflag.org/advocacy.