Family Equality regularly takes action to advance equality for LGBTQ+ families in the courts. In some cases, we support cases as Amicus curiae or a “friend of the court”, filing an amicus brief in support of one of the parties to the case. In others, Family Equality is plaintiff in a case in our role as an organization representing LGBTQ+ families.
Family Equality as Plaintiff
Suing the Department of Health and Human Services over LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections (2020)
Family Equality is plaintiff, along with True Colors United, Inc. and SAGE in Family Equality et al. v. Azar, et al., filed on March 19, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Family Equality is represented by attorneys at Democracy Forward and Lambda Legal.
Family Equality Amicus Briefs
About our “Voices of Children” Briefs
Many of the briefs listed below are part of Family Equality series of “Voices of Children” Amicus briefs, asking the Courts to recognize the unique perspective of children whose well-being, personal self-esteem, and sense of purpose are negatively impacted by the denial of legal and lived equality for their LGBTQ parents.
The Voices of Children briefs were instrumental in achieving the successful Obergefell Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land in 2015. Since the marriage equality decision, Family Equality has continued to elevate the voices of children of LGBTQ families, most recently in Pavan v. Smith, a case addressing the right of same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate, arising from Arkansas.
United States Supreme Court
Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (2020)
Submitted Amicus Brief, in partnership with PFLAG National
Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is a case about whether government-funded foster care agencies have a “right” to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. The Supreme Court ruling could have broad implications beyond the foster care context.
- Read the Family Equality Amicus Brief in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia
- Learn more about what’s at stake in this case
LGBTQ Title VII Employment Discrimination Cases (2019)
Submitted Amicus Brief, with The Trevor Project and PFLAG National
Bostock v. Clayton County, GA; Altitude Express, Inc. et al. v. Melissa Zarda et al.; Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. EEOC et al. are cases that address the question of whether, or not, the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of “sex” covers sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Read the Family Equality Amicus Brief in the Title VII Cases
- Learn more about what’s at stake in these cases
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2017)
Joined Amicus Brief submitted by Lambda Legal
This was a case that ostensibly pitted the ability of a provider of wedding cakes to discriminate against same-sex couples against a state law prohibiting such discrimination. The Supreme Court upheld the ability of a state to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity while, at the same time, saying this particular baker was harmed by inappropriate religious animus by members of the Civil Rights Commission.
Pavan v. Smith (2017)
Submitted Amicus Brief with COLAGE
This was a case where the state refused to put both same-sex parents’ names on the birth certificate of their child, allowing only the biological parent’s name to be listed. The Arkansas state Supreme Court upheld that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court summarily overturned the decision, saying “Having chosen to make its birth certificates more than mere markers of biological relationships and to use them to give married parents a form of legal recognition that is not available to unmarried parents, Arkansas may not, consistent with Obergefell v. Hodges, deny married same-sex couples that recognition.”
V.L. v. E.L. & Guardian Ad Litem, As Representative of Minor Children (2015)
Submitted Amicus Brief with COLAGE and Campaign for Southern Equality
After a break-up of two women, one of them, in an Alabama court, challenged the legality of an adoption decree granted by a sister state (GA). The Alabama Supreme court ruled that Georgia didn’t have the authority to issue such an adoption decree. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the adoption decree and overturned the AL Supreme Court, citing the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
- Read Family Equality’s Amicus Brief in V.L. v. E.L. & Guardian Ad Litem, As Representative of Minor Children
Obergefell & Henry v. Hodges, Director Ohio Dept. of Health (2015)
Submitted Amicus Brief with COLAGE and Kinsey Morrison
This is the case that finally recognized the Constitutional right of same-sex partners to marry, making marriage equality the law in all states and jurisdictions.
Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor (2013)
Submitted Amicus Brief with movement organizations
This is the case that forced the federal government to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples legally entered into, in the various states.
1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Puerto Rico: Lopes-Aviles
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
Pennsylvania: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia
4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Virginia: Bostic & Berghoff v. Schaefer, Rainey & McQuigg
5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Texas: De Leon, Dimetman, Holmes, & Phariss v. Perry, Abbott, & Lakey
6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Kentucky: Bourke v. Beshear
Michigan: Deboer v. Snyder
Tennessee: Tanco v. Haslam
Ohio: Henry v. Himes
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Indiana & Wisconsin: Baskin v. Bogan and Wolf v. Walker
Indiana: Henderson v. Adams
9th Circuit Court of Appeals
California & Washington: City of San Francisco v. Alex Azar, County of Santa Clara v. US Department of Health & Human Services, State of California v. Alex Azar, State of Washington v. Alex Azar
Idaho: Latta v. Otter, Rich & State of Idaho
Nevada & Hawaii: Sevcik v. Sandoval & Coalition for the Protection of Marriage and Jackson v. Abercrombie, Fuddy & Hawaii Family Forum
10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Oklahoma: Bishop & Barton v. Smith & The United States of America ex. rel. Eric H. Holder Jr.
Utah: Kitchen v. Herbert & Swensen
11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Florida: Brenner; Grimsley
State Court Briefs
In addition to briefs filed in Federal Court, Family Equality has also filed the following briefs in state courts: