Suzanne B. Goldberg

  • March 25, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Over the weekend The New York Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg provided a relatively glowing profile of Brian Brown, the leader of the rabidly antigay group called the National Organization for Marriage.

    Brown, Stolberg tells us, has “an open face and easy laugh that belie his status as a divisive figures in the culture wars” and a “keen sense of strategy and a polished speaking style, traits that unnerve his opponents.”

    Beyond lavishing praise on Brown’s lobbying abilities, Stolberg had to provide us a bit of information about his arguments against same-sex marriage – and those arguments are hardly polished or keen. They’re Christian Right retreads. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage will threaten religious liberty and undermine the sacredness of marriage, the Christian Right argues.

    For example, Brown said, “When you knock over a core pillar of society like marriage, and then try to redefine biblical views of marriage  as bigotry, there will be consequences.” He then asks will a push to “normalize pedophilia occur.”

    Like other Christianists Brown also comes around to the topic of children – if lesbians and gay men can legally wed they’ll adopt even more children and according to Christian Right groups that’s really bad news for children.

    These arguments regarding the ability of gay couples to raise children and the supposed threats to religious liberty are more than overwrought, they’re inaccurate. But peddling this nonsense has been a high priority for Brown and his allies in the Christian Right community for a long, long time.

    Boston College law school professor Kent Greenfield in a piece for The American Prospect titled “Weird Friends of the Court,” highlights a few of the “friend-of-the-court briefs” lodged by religious groups in both cases – Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor – that the Court will hear oral argument in this week.

    Greenfield notes upfront that controversial cases, such as the Perry and Windsor, “bring out the crazies, and crazies can hire lawyers to write a brief. And sometimes the crazies are the lawyers.”

    And then Greenfield gives us some examples. The far-right Thomas More Society declares gay people can’t have sex. “A man and woman, and only a man and a woman, are capable of engaging in sexual intercourse.” Greenfield adds, “Now that’s going to come as a surprise to some people.” No kidding.

    Fortunately there are likely many more serious, thoughtful briefs lodged before the Supreme Court. This blog has noted some of them here and here.

    Georgetown Law Center Professor Nan Hunter and Columbia Law School Professor Suzanne Goldberg have lodged briefs in both cases. During a recent interview with ACSblog, Goldberg briefly described some arguments advanced in those briefs.  


  • November 27, 2012
    Guest Post

    By Suzanne B. Goldberg, Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law; Co-Director, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law; and Director, Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, Columbia Law School

    While marriage equality supporters have been giving thanks for the recent ballot box victories and the Second Circuit’s Windsor v. U.S. decision, the most recent Defense of Marriage strike-down by a federal court in mid-October, the law-focused among us are also looking ahead to the next big question: What will the U.S. Supreme Court do on Nov. 30, when it is scheduled to decide on the marriage-related cert petitions pending before it?

    Notably, Windsor is now looking, to many, like the leading candidate among cert-worthy marriage cases and, for marriage equality advocates, a particularly promising one for at least three reasons. 

    Perhaps most importantly, Windsor presents a powerful – and personal – story of DOMA’s discriminatory effects on lesbian and gay married couples. Edie Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer were together for 42 years, from the early 1960s through Speyer’s death in 2009, two years after the couple married in Toronto, in a relationship so committed and moving that it became the subject of a widely acclaimed documentary, Edie and Thea. Yet because of DOMA, the United States refused to recognize their relationship and, when Thea died, sent Edie a $300,000+ tax bill that would have been $0 had the government acknowledged their marriage.