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Religious Tolerance logo


Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger):
California lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Prop. 8

2013-FEB: Amici Curiae brief filed
by the Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) and 19 other religious groups.

Part 1 of two parts

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Continued from a previous essay

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for "same-sex marriage."

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2013-MAR-01: An Amici Curiae filed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and 19 other religious groups:

A group of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and other religious groups filed a brief opposing the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The following groups participated:

  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
  • Americans United for Separation of Church,
  • Bend the Arc—A Jewish Partnership for Justice,
  • The Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism,
  • Congregation Beit Simchat Torah,
  • Hadassah—The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.,
  • The Hindu American Foundation,
  • The Interfaith Alliance Foundation,
  • The Japanese American Citizens League,
  • Jewish Social Policy Action Network,
  • Keshet,
  • Lutherans Concerned/North America,
  • Metropolitan Community Church,
  • The National Council of Jewish Women,
  • Nehirim,
  • People for the American Way Foundation,
  • The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,
  • T’ruah,
  • Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, and
  • Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

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Theirs is a formidable brief that is well worth reading in full. It concentrates on how religious beliefs and religiously-derived systems of morality cannot legitimately be used to deprive sexual minorities of equal rights.

Some of the points raised in the brief are:

  • "ADL has a substantial interest in this case. At issue are core questions about equality and constitutional rights."

  • "... the religious and moral justifications offered by Petitioners’ amici to support Proposition 8 -- if embraced by this Court -- would threaten to
    invite state-sanctioned prejudice..."

  • Many briefs submitted by supporters of Proposition 8:

    "... argue that Proposition 8 has a rational basis because the Judeo- Christian religious tradition has historically recognized marriage as a union between opposite-sex partners and has frowned upon same-sex relationships and sexual intimacy."

  • "Others attempt to recast religious opposition to marriage equality as concern for religious freedom, arguing that Proposition 8 is a rational bid to avoid 'reasonably foreseeable' conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious liberty."

"Those arguments should be rejected. This Court has refused for three-quarters of a century to uphold laws disfavoring minority groups based on religious or moral disapproval alone -- with the one, now-discredited exception of Bowers v. Hardwick. ... And for good reason: Time and
again throughout our nation’s history, laws that disadvantaged or degraded particular groups have been justified by resort to morality and religion. And time and again, our society has come to see those laws as repugnant, and the religious and moral disapproval justifying them as little more than a means to enshrine the status quo. Not surprisingly, the religious and moral disapproval itself has receded as society shifts and the minority group gains greater public acceptance. That history helps explain why this Court rejected moral disapproval in Lawrence v. Texas, explaining that traditional morality is 'not a sufficient reason to uphold a law'."

"The Court should hew to this practice and reject religious or moral disapproval as a legitimate basis for a law that strips Californians of their state right to a civil marriage. Like the moral and religious justifications for slavery, segregation, interracial-marriage bans, and laws restricting women’s roles in public life, the moral and religious objections to marriage equality are proving ephemeral. Indeed, even religious groups among Petitioners’ amici have tempered their views in just the past few years. These swiftly shifting sands underscore why moral and religious disapproval -- including the chimera of protecting the 'religious liberty' of those who condemn marriage equality -- are too weak a foundation
for government discrimination."

Webmaster's notes:

Bowers v. Hardwick was a Supreme Court ruling of a Georgia state law that criminalized oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults of either the same or opposite genders. It was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986, and overturend in 2003 by their Lawrence v. Texas decision. In the latter ruling, the Supreme Court stated that "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today."

The references to "religious liberty" on the part of the supporters of Prop. 8 apparently refer to the new, emerging definition for religious freedom and liberty. Religious freedom/liberty used to mean freedom of religious belief, freedom of association, freedom to proselytize without oppression, etc. The emerging definition includes the religiously based freedom to denigrate, oppress, and discriminate against minorities -- often sexual minorities. Examples include the right claimed by wedding photographers, persons renting meeting halls, wedding cake bakers, etc. to offer their services to the general public, while refusing services to couples of the same sex.

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The ADL brief continues:

  • Another concern for supporters of Prop. 8 was expressed by the Christian Legal Society who wrote in their brief:

    "If this Court declares that religious judgments about marriage, family, and sexual behavior are the legal equivalent of racism, it will diminish the religious liberty of millions of religious believers and religious communities.”

  • Supporters of Prop. 8 only have one valid argument to support their position:

    "... religious and moral disapproval of marriage equality and, in some cases, of gay people themselves."

  • "Proponents of laws that marginalize disadvantaged groups have long relied on arguments grounded in morality and religion to justify the discrimination. Time and again, however, society has come to see these laws as a stain on the nation’s history and to view the religious and moral justifications offered for them as wrong, both spiritually and philosophically."

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Brief of Amici Curiae Anti-Defamation League et al. in support of Respondents," Anti-Defamation League & 18 other religious groups, 2012-MAR-01, at: https://www.au.org/

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Site navigation:

Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > California > Prop 8 > here

Copyright © 2013 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2013-MAR-08
Latest update: 2017-JAN-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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