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Atheists Celebrate Supreme Court Decisions on Marriage Equality

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, bmagee@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x 105

(Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013)—Leadership at the American Humanist Association expressed satisfaction with decisions by the United State Supreme Court today that are consistent with the country’s move toward acceptance of marriage equality.

The decision declaring unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and a decision that left intact a lower court decision overturning of California’s Prop 8 are narrow rulings but are being hailed as positive steps forward toward a unified country where marriage equality will eventually be universal. The rulings leave intact for now the laws of states that forbid same-sex marriage.

“Today the Supreme Court wisely stopped the federal government from its practice of discriminating against loving couples on account of some politicians' religious bias,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “Now we turn our attention to the states that remain intolerant with an aim of eradicating institutionalized discrimination.”

“The Supreme Court’s DOMA decision made clear that the federal government cannot act to limit marriage rights granted by states out of animus against the class of persons they allow to marry,” said Bill Burgess, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s legal center. “This decision is an important step towards making real for same-sex couples the equality under the law that the Constitution intends for all Americans.”

“We aren't done, not nearly done,” said Jason Frye, coordination of the LGBTQ Humanist Council. “Changing legal architecture provides recourse against acts of discrimination. The Court rightly bolstered the bedrock for equality. What needs to also change are social attitudes. Now it is up to us to shape the social architecture toward justice and to further expand the atmosphere of its reach.”

DOMA stopped the federal government from recognizing any marriage not between a man and a woman. The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the AHA and other allied organizations in the case, U.S. v. Windsor et al., urging the court to find that DOMA unconstitutionally discriminated against gays and lesbians. 

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center also filed an amicus curiae brief in the case involving Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry et al., a California initiative that removed legal recognition for same sex marriages under state law. The AHA’s brief was on behalf of the AHA and allied organizations.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is a project of the American Humanist Association that provides legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of secular Americans by challenging violations of the separation of church and state guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and seeking equal rights for humanists, atheists and other freethinkers.

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington D.C., its work is extended through more than 170 local chapters and affiliates across the United States. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms a responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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