MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has filed a friend-of-the-court brief along with Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s Proposition 8.
The move comes as news emerged that the Obama administration was also planning to file a brief urging the court to strike down the proposition, which banned gay marriage in that state.
Political observers say that the case could have sweeping national implications for the right of same-sex couples to wed.
“This is a very big decision that the Supreme Court is going to make on the future of gay rights in this country,” Kluwe told WCCO’s Edgar Linares. “Brendon felt the same way — that as athletes, we have a fairly unique voice in society. It’s something that we can make a difference for people.”
The brief supported by Kluwe and Ayanbadejo was written by John Dragseth, co-chair of the Appellate Group at Fish & Richardson in Twin Cities.
NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports
“When professional athletes do the right thing, their efforts are magnified, sometimes in truly astounding ways,” read the brief filed by Dragseth.
Kluwe and Ayanbadejo garnered national attention after the latter’s outspoken support of marriage equality earned a rebuke by Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Kluwe’s response to Burns went viral, and both were featured on “The Ellen Show” to talk about the controversy.
Thursday marks the deadline for the administration and other parties to file friend-of-the-court briefs. A flurry of states, organizations and individuals have filed briefs in the Proposition 8 case in recent days.
“Hopefully we can help make the world a more tolerant and better place to live in,” Kluwe said.
Thirteen states, including four that do not currently permit gay couples to wed, urged the court on Thursday to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional, saying marriage enhances economic security and emotional well-being for the partners, and is better for children. Minnesota was not among those states, however Maryland — where Ayanbadejo’s Ravens play — did.
“All of these interests are furthered by ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution,” said the brief signed by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and also joined by Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, Delaware, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and the District of Columbia.
Gay rights advocates have pressed Obama to urge the court not only to strike down Proposition 8, but also to rule that the Constitution forbids any state from banning same-sex unions. The administration may also choose a narrower option, including asking the court to strike down only California’s ban.
Another option would be for the administration to ask the court to rule that California and other states that allow unions carrying all of the benefits of marriage cannot take that right away. Seven other states allow gay couples to join in civil unions that have full marriage benefits.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case on March 26. One day later, the justices will hear arguments on another gay marriage case, this one involving provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The act defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.
The Obama administration abandoned its defense of DOMA in 2011, but the measure will continue to be federal law unless it is struck down or repealed. In a brief filed last week, the government said Section 3 of DOMA “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection” because it denies legally married same-sex couples many federal benefits that are available only to legally married heterosexual couples.
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