Attorney General Eric Holder recently said the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages — following the Supreme Court’s decision not to review three appeals court rulings overturning marriage bans.
Beyond Holder’s action, I was moved by his words:
“Within hours of the decision, same-sex couples in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin were able to have their unions recognized in the states where they live — to stand with their partners, and with their children, as loving and committed families with the full protection of the law.”
Holder’s inclusion of families and children went to the heart of the matter for gay dads like me in New York City and the millions of other families I represent at Family Equality Council. Our “Voices of Children” amicus briefs have put children’s testimonials before judges in dozens of federal marriage cases.
In the case involving Proposition 8 — which put on hold gay and lesbian marriages in California — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy referred to our brief during oral arguments as a key example of the unfairness of the law. In August, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner shined a light on our brief during Seventh Circuit arguments before he wrote the opinion overturning marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin.
He questioned attorneys arguing to keep the bans, pointing to our brief: “It has a great deal of rather harrowing information about the problems created for children and their parents in the case of same-sex couples not being allowed to marry who have adopted children — how they feel when they grow up, how what happens when one of their parents dies.”
The Seventh Circuit ruling came in part because we exposed the concrete harms that children face when their parents are denied equality. In concluding his statement about federal recognition for same-sex marriages in the states where marriage is legal for same-sex couples, Holder acknowledged the recent progress but stressed that the work is not done. We have much work to do. We are grateful for Holder’s support and look forward to working on behalf of LGBTQ families to achieve equality nationwide.
Gabriel Blau is executive director of Family Equality Council, a national advocacy group that supports parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This is a shortened version of a piece that appeared on Advocate.com.