Social Workers Come Out in Support of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

August 16, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK - The National Association of Social Workers filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in support of the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit seeking marriage for same-sex couples in New York.

""Lesbian and gay people are capable of being perfectly fine parents, and their families need the same protections and safeguards that the families of different-sex couples receive through marriage,"" said Robert Schachter, DSW, Executive Director of the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, which includes 10,000 professional social workers.  ""It's time that we put aside our outdated ideas about marriage and recognize that allowing same-sex couples to marry will only strengthen families and benefit children.""

The brief, which points to decades of social science research proving that gay couples are just as capable of being good parents as straight couples, debunks arguments by marriage equality opponents that allowing same-sex couples to marry would somehow be harmful to children.  

The brief notes that every mainstream child advocacy and mental health organization, including the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association and the North American Council on Adoptable Children, oppose restrictions on parenting by gay people.  

Today, the ACLU also filed a reply brief in the case responding to arguments made by the state, which is defending the state law that discriminates against same-sex couples in marriage.  All briefing in the case is scheduled to be completed by September 3, 2004.  The court is expected to issue a decision in the case sometime this fall.  

The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of 13 same-sex couples, many of whom had hoped to be married by New Paltz Mayor Jason West but were unable to do so after he was forced to stop performing marriages for same-sex couples.  The lawsuit charges that state law prohibiting same-sex couples from marriage violates the state constitution's guarantees of equality and due process.

Since the lawsuit was filed, two separate New York judges have dismissed criminal charges against Mayor West and others who performed marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.  In dismissing the criminal charges, both judges found that it was unconstitutional for the state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.  

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with 153,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.  Learn more about NASW by visiting its website at http://www.socialworkers.org/.

The American Civil Liberties Union is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. The ACLU is non-profit and non-partisan. Our membership has grown from a roomful of civil liberties activists at our founding in 1920 to an organization of more than 400,000 members and supporters, with local offices that cover every state in the nation.  The Lesbian and Gay Rights Project is a special division of the ACLU that was founded in 1986.  The goal of the Project is equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  That means no discrimination by government, no discrimination in employment, housing, schools and public places, and fair treatment of LGBT families and relationships.

Biographical information about the couples represented by the ACLU as well as legal documents filed in the case are available at /LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRightslist.cfm?c=101 

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