A Lot of Congress and a Little of the NFL Wants the Court to Back Gay Marriage

The Atlantic

Another 214 people have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on the two gay marriage cases that the Supreme Court will soon consider and, well, two of them work in football stadiums and the other 212 work on Capitol Hill. And a surprising number of Congressman didn't join them.

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Yesterday afternoon, the Baltimore Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo and the Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe — the two most outspoken players in a league struggling with gay rights — echoed President Obama in filing an amicus brief asking that California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 be overturned. The two players came to national attention last year when Ayanbadejo spoke out in support of gay marriage and Kluwe colorfully rose to his defense. DCist has a summary (and the brief itself):

"Under all the bad behavior that makes the news, male professional sports for far too long have harbored bigotry, intolerance, and prejudice—with respect to both race and sexual orientation," the brief reads. "We are just beginning to see progress with regard to the issue of sexual orientation."

Since then, Ayanbadejo won a Super Bowl ring, for consideration if you worry about things like karma.

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Then there were those 212 other people. Earlier today, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced that she and a few dozen dozen of her peers were filing a brief in the other Supreme Court case, dealing with the Defense of Marriage Act. (It is here.) The aim of the brief is to differentiate the signatories' view of the issue from the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a Republican-led body that is sponsoring the legislation's defense at the Court.

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How those 212 people break down is interesting. Not one from either chamber is a Republican. And a number of Democrats didn't sign on, including:

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  • Senator Max Baucus, Montana
  • Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, Louisiana
  • Senator Carl Levin, Michigan
  • Senator Bill Nelson, Florida
  • Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, West Virginia
  • Representative Jim Costa, California
  • Representative Gene Green, Texas
  • Representative Ron Kind, Wisconsin
  • Representative Frederica Wilson, Florida

… among others. In total, 15 Democratic senators and 30 representatives didn't sign on.

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At a press conference earlier today, President Obama explained the apparent contradiction between his comments last year that the federal government shouldn't be involved in gay marriage and yesterday's filing. As transcribed by the Washington Post:

[A]lthough I do think that we’re seeing on a state-by-state basis progress being made, more and more states recognizing same-sex couples and giving them the opportunity to marry and maintain all the benefits of marriage that heterosexual couples do. When the Supreme Court asks do you think that the California law, which doesn’t provide any rationale for discriminating against same-sex couples other than just the notion that, well, they’re same-sex couples -- if the Supreme Court asks me or my attorney general or solicitor general, “Do we think that meets constitutional muster?,” I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly. And the answer is no.

With this week's filings, the federal government is inextricably involved in the issue. A near-majority of both houses of Congress and the President have indicated a desire to overturn key anti-gay-marriage legislation. But it's instead up to nine people who work across the street.

Maybe some of them are football fans.

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