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Covington Files Amicus Brief in Support of Equal Marriage Rights


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 26, 2007 — Covington & Burling LLP today filed a brief in California Supreme Court in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. The amicus curiae brief supports the City of San Francisco’s challenge to the California law that prevents same-sex couples from being married in the state.

Addressing the issue of “separate but equal” from a psychological, social, and civil rights perspective, the brief argues that California’s separate domestic partnership regime for same-sex couples cannot be justified for constitutional purposes on the ground that it provides legal rights that are nearly equal to marriage, which California law currently reserves for opposite-sex couples. In addition to the legal differences between domestic partnership and marriage, the brief argues that the two systems are unequal because the very fact of separation stigmatizes same-sex relationships and sends the message that they are inferior to opposite-sex couples. The brief argues that this message has serious negative psychological effects on all lesbians and gay men, and it encourages and perpetuates societal discrimination against them.

“Domestic partner benefits are not the same as marriage,” says Sonya Winner, a partner at Covington who is a co-chair of the firm’s litigation practice. “Arguments proclaiming ‘separate but equal’ went out of fashion more than 50 years ago.”

The brief was filed on behalf of three highly regarded organizations: the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Anthropological Association.

Covington’s Winner filed the brief along with David M. Jolley and Erin C. Smith of the firm’s San Francisco office.

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