Andersen v. King County

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Considered the constitutionality of a Washington state ban on same-sex marriage.

Full Case Titile: 

Andersen v. King County, 158 Wn.2d 1 (Wash. 2006)
  • Fairness in the Courts

Year: 

2006
  • Sex-Based Classification
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Authored Amicus Brief

Brief: 

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum was an amicus in this case to support same sex couples seeking the right to marry, which was joined by several other women's organizations. The California law firm of Irell and Manella was pro bono counsel in the case.

Summary of the Brief

We entered the case to offer the Court a gender perspective. The brief we filed as amici curiae on behalf of ourselves and other women’s rights organizations argued that denying marriage based on the sex of the individuals who seek to marry is unlawful sex discrimination: it categorizes people by sex and enforces a deeply familiar idea that is nonetheless a gender stereotype – that women should be sexually intimate only with men, and that men should be sexually intimate only with women.

Decision

In a split decision, the Washington Supreme Court narrowly rejected their claim that the state’s prohibition on marriage for same sex couples violates the state constitution. The Court held that the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite sex couples furthers procreation and the well-being of children by encouraging families in which children are reared by their biological parents. Two trial judges in Washington State had previously ruled that denying same sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court held that the state’s Equal Rights Amendment was not violated because the legislation treats men and women the "same," in that neither a man nor a woman can marry a person of the same sex.