Americans United, Allies Ask Federal Appeals Court To Strike Down Texas’ Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Marriage Prohibition Is Unconstitutionally Based On Religion, Church-State Watchdog Says

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and its allies have asked a federal appeals court to strike down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

In a brief filed today in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Americans United, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and more than 20 other religious and public policy groups say Texas’ marriage restriction is an unconstitutional act that limits, rather than preserves, religious freedom.

“Just because a handful of religious groups have a problem with same-sex marriage doesn’t mean they get to take away other people’s rights,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Constitution does not permit such behavior, and I hope the court will agree.”

The brief argues that no government may adopt a narrow definition of marriage favored by a handful of religious organizations.

“Texas had no legitimate secular purpose in adopting that selective religious definition of marriage,” the brief says. “The legislative history and ballot initiative campaign demonstrate that those responsible for passing the Marriage Ban had the specific motive of tying the definition of marriage to a particular religious tradition’s understanding of that civil institution.”

“Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory – plain and simple,” said Alex J. Luchenitser, Americans United’s associate legal director. “It is based on religious dogma, something the Constitution forbids.”

The brief in DeLeon v. Perry was prepared by attorneys at Ropes & Gray LLP and the ADL, with input from Luchenitser.

Other groups joining Americans United and the ADL include: the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Interfaith Alliance Foundation; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Metropolitan Community Churches; More Light Presbyterians; People For the American Way Foundation; and the Society for Humanistic Judaism.