Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Mar 6 2015

OLYMPIA — Today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined a coalition of states in filing an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Constitution requires marriage equality nationwide.

“Our nation and our state were founded on the ideal of equal rights for all,” Ferguson said. “As Attorney General, I am firmly committed to protecting those rights for all Washingtonians, and I will ensure that Washington’s interest in supporting marriage equality is represented before the Supreme Court.”

Washington joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in an amicus curiae brief submitted in Obergefell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear, all on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The cases are scheduled for oral argument on April 28, 2015.

A total of 12 states still refuse to permit marriages between same-sex couples or recognize same-sex marriages lawfully licensed by other states, including Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.  The laws of those four states are now under review. 

The amicus brief filed today argues that the continued refusal by some states to license or recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples inflicts widespread harm on these couples and their families, including those living in Washington and other marriage equality states.

Major life decisions made by married same-sex couples, including education, employment, and residency, are affected by the non-recognition of their marriages. Many couples refuse to move to or simply try to avoid non-recognition states whenever possible.

The brief highlights some specific harms inflicted by non-recognition states, including:

  • Not amending a birth certificate to include both spouses;
  • Allowing employers to deny access to healthcare coverage for spouses;
  • Denying the right to make decisions for or visit a spouse in the hospital;
  • Denying parental rights for one spouse; and
  • Not including a spouse on a death certificate

The states filing the brief are: Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Three more states filed separate briefs supporting the right to marry: Hawaii, Minnesota, and Virginia.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov