Marriage arguments are taking a strange judicial turn, after major law firms refuse to come near the issue in U.S. Supreme Court briefs. The decision to avoid the issue is leaving smaller firms to take on the matter.
One of the reasons larger law firms, which traditionally argue controversial cases for tobacco companies, alcohol companies and scandalous corporations, are not offering to take on the case is because of fear of financial boycotts and a perception of bigotry. Conservative attorneys have said those opposing same-sex marriage on religious liberty ideals are harassed to the point that they fear speaking publicly on their views.
Some legal analysts suggest the lack of legal firepower supporting traditional marriage will result in an uneven argument before the Supreme Court. Justices are expected to make a decision regarding the constitutionality of the issue in June.
The court will hear a case later in April where Michigan lawyer John Bursch will present the side of opposing legalizing same-sex unions nationwide. However, he will not have his firm standing with him and is arguing the case on his own on behalf of the State of Michigan. The reason, according to the firm’s managing partner, is the case is too hot to handle.
The large Atlanta firm, King and Spalding, withdrew from a similar case in 2011 after gay rights groups exerted enormous pressure on the firm. The attorney handling the case quit and got a job a smaller firm.
Other groups are standing for traditional unions in submitting friend-of-the-court briefs before the Supreme Court. One of those is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The church worked with other religions to submit its opposition to same-sex unions being legalized across the country. Other faiths signing onto the brief includes the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Free Methodist Church – USA, and the International Pentecost Holiness Church.
While the LDS church upholds traditional unions between a man and a woman before the court, it has acted to prevent discrimination of homosexuals in employment and housing in Utah. It also worked to create a state law allowing county clerks to decline performing same-sex ceremonies, as long as there is someone in the office to provide the service.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, around 200 ministers are beginning a campaign, called “Why Marriage Matters,” to speak to congregations in support of same-sex marriage. The sermons, scheduled for a Sunday just over a week before the Supreme Court makes its ruling, involves those of differing faiths, according to organizers.
There are still a number of churches in the Buckeye state that support traditional marriage. That was proven when they were successful in defining the issue in the state through a 2004 campaign, according to Phil Burress, Citizens for Community Values president. Burress said legalizing marriage between homosexuals would leave a legal loophole for others, including polygamists and those who want to marry relatives.
He said the grassroots public is against same-sex marriage. Of the 37 states where gay marriage is legal, Burress said it was only voted in by the public in three. Gay marriage was legislated in the other states by lawmakers’ passing bills, or through court action. Most polls show that gay marriage has support from 52 percent of Americans while 40 percent oppose it.
The court will decide on the issue of marriage, even though larger firms refuse to represent cases in the controversial issue and cases will have to be argued by smaller firms. Some legal scholars state that is a miscarriage of the legal system, because tradition mandates adequate representation from both sides of a case.
By Melody Dareing
Photo by Wally Gobetz – Flickr license