Support for New York State Amicus Brief Requested
- Support for New York State Amicus Brief Requested
Pasted below is an email from Ted Jacobs of Fried, Frank, Harris,
Shriver & Jacobson LLP that invites clergy, congregations and
representatives of religious organizations to express interest in
signing a brief to be filed in New York state courts supporting civil
marriage between same-gender couples. Efforts are focused on New
York State but support is welcomed from any party interested in
signing the brief. Affirmation has written to Ted Jacobs to express
its intent to sign.
From: Ted Jacobs - Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Date: March 21, 2005
Please reply to Ted Jacobs at jacobed@...
Re: Equal Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples In New York
We write to ask you and other people of faith to support equal
marriage rights for gay and lesbian citizens of New York. Your voice
can be heard by signing a legal brief to be filed in New York state
courts on behalf of a diverse array of individual clergy, religious
leaders, congregations and religious organizations that support civil
marriage between same-sex couples. Specifically, we are gathering the
names of clergy, congregations and representatives of religious
organizations who are interested in lending their support in this
important civil rights struggle.
As you may know, there are three cases addressing the rights of
same-sex couples to marry making their way through the New York State
court system. We believe that two of the cases may soon be heard by
the state's highest court; the other one is pending in an intermediate
appeals court. In an historic and groundbreaking decision, a court in
New York City most recently ruled that same-sex couples must be
allowed to marry. The link to this decision is:
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a preeminent national LGBT
civil rights organization, is helping to coordinate the filing of
"friend of the court" briefs by groups that support marriage between
same-sex couples. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP has
offered to prepare the "friend of the court" brief that will be
submitted on behalf of religious groups. This brief is very important
- it will show the courts that clergy and religious organizations from
many different denominations support the right of gay men and lesbians
to marry, and it will shatter the common misconception that religious
organizations are lockstep in their opposition to marriage between
We anticipate that our brief will make the following general
* Although marriage has both a religious and a civil meaning, it is
civil marriage that establishes legal status and conveys the
entitlements that New York provides to married couples. A wide and
diverse array of religious individuals, groups and organizations
support the right to civil marriage for same-sex couples.
* The law of New York State firmly supports the separation of church
and state and requires that the question of marriage between same-sex
couples be decided as a civil matter, not a religious matter, and
without reference to any religious tradition.
* Civil marriage in this context is a legal status conferred by the
State. As such, allowing civil marriage between same-sex couples will
not intrude on the rights of religious groups to decide whether to
confer religious marriages to same-sex couples
within the meanings of each of their own religious traditions.
* The diversity of religious thought relating to the issue of
marriage between same-sex couples makes it especially inappropriate
for the issue to be decided on anything but civil grounds, as
determining the question by reference to religious principles would
favor one set of religious groups over others. The court should
therefore not consider the views of the religious groups that are
opposed to marriage between same-sex couples when it is deciding the
We expect that the preparation of our brief will take between 4 and 6
weeks. We will circulate the brief to those groups who have expressed
an interest in joining the brief for their review and final approval.
When that process is completed, we will file the briefs in the
relevant courts. We expect to have our brief finalized by early May.
Our brief will be filed in all three of the New York state cases
described above. We are in the process of approaching religious
groups like yours to ask you to join the brief. In addition, we would
like to discuss with you other religious groups that you might be able
to identify who would want to join your and our efforts. Fried Frank
has a long tradition of pro bono work such as this and is bearing the
full cost of the brief; there will be no charge to any individual,
congregation or group to join the brief. "Joining" the brief simply
means that you or your organization agrees to have its name listed as
one of the "friends of the court" that is submitting the brief; no
further work is required.
If you would like to see an example our brief will look like, the same
kind of brief was filed in a similar case that is currently before the
Washington Supreme Court. The link to this brief is:
If you are interested in joining our efforts, please respond to me
(Ted Jacobs of Fried Frank) by email at jacobed@....
Please do not hesitate to call me at (212) 859-8715 or contact me by
email if you have any additional questions. Even if you decide not to
join the brief, we would be interested in talking to you about other
groups that might be interested of learning of our efforts and joining
Thanks very much for your consideration.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
One New York Plaza, 25th Floor
New York, NY 10004-1980