Four marriage equality cases will be argued in the United States Supreme Court on April 28 and decided before the end of the term in June. RBGG lawyers, including Sandy Rosen, Gay Grunfeld and Ben Bien-Kahn, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court on March 6 in all four pending cases on behalf of survivors of the anti-gay therapies known as “sexual orientation change efforts” (or SOCE), as well as the sister of a man who committed suicide after being subjected to SOCE as a child. The brief is available in full here: Amicus Brief – Survivors of Sexual Orientation Change Therapies
RBGG also represented these Amici in the two marriage equality cases previously before the Supreme Court: Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which denied gay men and lesbian women the right to marry, and United States v. Windsor, the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.
In each of these Amicus Briefs, filed in the Supreme Court, the SOCE survivors urged the Supreme Court to review the discriminatory laws at issue under a heightened level of scrutiny because they single out LGBT people based on an immutable trait central to their identity. Through these briefs, RBGG recounted the Amici’s stories, emphasizing the immutability of sexual orientation and the stigmatizing effect of the discrimination and prejudice that has been and continues to be directed at LGBT people.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit Court of Appeals opinion finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013). The Court also held that the proponents of Proposition 8 lacked standing to appeal the federal district court opinion that found its prohibition on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652 (2013).
The firm’s representation of the SOCE survivors has also extended to the filing of amicus briefs in defense of state laws banning these therapies. On September 11, 2014 the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New Jersey’s law banning “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE), affirming an earlier district court decision that upheld the law. (See Victory for RBGG Amici as Third Circuit Upholds New Jersey Law Banning SOCE)
The New Jersey case came on the heels of RBGG’s initial and successful representation of these Amici in Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown – two separate lawsuits challenging California’s Senate Bill 1172, which protects LGBT youth from the serious psychological harms caused by state-licensed therapists who use SOCE to try to change their patients’ sexual orientation. (See RBGG Represents SOCE Survivors as Amici to Strengthen Rights for the LGBT Community)