These are your gay marriage allies in Houston

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Prominent Houstonians – from Mayor Annise Parker and Sheriff Adrian Garcia and faith leaders – are calling for the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.

The calls came in friend-of-the-court briefs filed this week supporting gay couples in lawsuits in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The Supreme Court announced arguments in those cases will be held April 28. The briefs were due on Friday.

Garcia, a Democrat and likely mayoral candidate, was among more than 200 law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs from across the country that signed one of the briefs. 

Parker joined 225 other mayors in calling for the high court to legalize same-sex marriage. Other Texas officials included Shavano Park Mayor A. David Marne, Valley Mills Mayor Jerry Pierce, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Socorro Mayor Jesus Ruiz. 

“Municipalities, as the level of government most closely connected to the community they serve, bear a great burden when a target sector of their populace is denied the right to marry. … When the freedom to marry is denied, municipalities are the first level of government to suffer the impact.”

Last June, Parker helped the U.S. Conference of Mayors support a resolution calling for an end to gay marriage bans. Rawlings has evolved since 2012 when he refused to sign a gay marriage pledge and later scuttled a gay marriage resolution before the City Council, according to Towleroad.

Some 15 faith leaders across Houston were among nearly, 2,000 that signed onto a brief calling for civil marriage for same-sex couples. They included Rabbi Anne Belford of Temple Sinai, Rev. Glynden Bode of Spirit’s Call Ministries, educator Katy Carpman of Unitarian Universalist Association, Rev. Katherine Churchwell of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Houston, Rev. Catharine Cline of Grace UCC, Revs. Michael Diaz and Troy Treash of Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, Revs. Becky and Mark Edmiston-Lange of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, retired Rev. Millard Eiland of Alliance of Baptists, Rector James Grace, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Rev. Robert Hall of Ecumenical Catholic Diocese of Texas in Houston, Rev. Angela Henderson of First Unitarian Universalist Church, Rev. Angela Henderson of First Unitarian Universalist Church and Rabbi Daniel Horwitz  Beth Yeshurun.

“By reversing the judgment of the court below without reliance on religiously based arguments, and by affirming the constitutional promise of equal treatment for different- and same-sex couples, this Court will ensure that civil law neither favors nor disfavors any particular religious viewpoint. Requiring equal treatment for different- and same-sex couples with respect to civil marriage will, in fact, reaffirm the religious liberty fundamental to this nation’s founding identity. When the freedom to marry is fully respected, all couples will have the right to a solemnized union before a justice of the peace, while all individual faith communities will retain the right to decide who among such couples may seek religious sanction of their union.”

A handful of Texas-based companies, though apparently none in Houston, signed a brief by 379 corporations urging the court to strike down gay marriage bans, including American Airlines, AT&T and Kimberly-Clark.

“As employers, amici know firsthand that this fractured legal landscape hampers economic growth and impedes innovation by forcing businesses to work harder, and invest more, to achieve the same return on our investments. Inconsistent marriage laws force companies to divert significant time and money to the creation and maintenance of complex administrative systems needed to differentiate treatment of otherwise indistinguishable employees based on the different marriage laws of the places where they live. These differences can create rifts in the employer employee relationship. Employers are better served by a uniform marriage rule that gives equal dignity to employee relationships. Allowing same-sex couples to marry improves employee morale and productivity, reduces uncertainty, and removes the wasteful administrative burdens imposed by the current disparity of state law treatment.”

Freedom to Marry provides a rundown of the marriage briefs.


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