The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and the NAACP (two separate entities) have jointly filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Bostic v. Schaefer, a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that seeks to overturn Virginia’s marriage ban.
The groups call for marriage equality for lesbians and gay men by invoking the principles set forth in the Supreme Court’s iconic 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws that prohibited marriage for interracial couples.
“More than fifty years ago, the Supreme Court unequivocally established the right of every individual to marry the person she or he chooses,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, Assistant Counsel in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Economic Justice Group. “It’s long past time to strike down laws that deprive lesbians and gay men of their constitutional rights,” Ms. Tabacco Mar added.
In the brief, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP make clear that Loving was not restricted to race: the freedom to marry has long been recognized as a fundamental right “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.”
“Marriage is a civil right under state law,” stated Kim M. Keenan, NAACP General Counsel. “In furtherance of our legacy of advocacy in Loving v. Virginia, we are proud to stand with the NAACP LDF to ensure that every person is treated the same and benefits the same under law.”
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP argue that marriage discrimination violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore, the same baseless and offensive accusations proffered by the proponents of Virginia’s marriage ban — that prohibitions on marriage equality are necessary to protect children — were also invoked by Virginia in 1967 in defense of its anti-miscegenation law.
Since 1996, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has participated as amicus curiae in cases across the nation that affect the rights of lesbians and gay men. In 1967, NAACP Legal Defense Fund participated in Loving v. Virginia as amicus curiae.