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Support for New York State Amicus Brief Requested

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    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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2005
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      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:

      http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record?record=1635

      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
      same-sex couples.

      We anticipate that our brief will make the following general
      arguments:

      * 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
      cases.

      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:

      http://www.lambdalegal.org/binary-data/LAMBDA_PDF/pdf/408.pdf


      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
      the cause.

      Thanks very much for your consideration.

      Ted Jacobs
      212-859-8715

      Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
      One New York Plaza, 25th Floor
      New York, NY 10004-1980
      Fax: 212-859-4000
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