Andersen v. King County

Brief Filed: 2/05
Court: Supreme Court of the State of Washington
Year of Decision: 2006

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 495KB)

Issue

A challenge to the constitutionality of Washington's statutes limiting the right to marry to opposite-sex couples

Index Topic

Sexual Orientation (discrimination; same-sex marriage)

Facts

Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples arguing that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the state constitution's guarantees of equality, liberty and privacy to all state citizens. The state trial court, King County Superior Court, issued a decision holding that the state's law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Washington Constitution. The Court concluded that the exclusion of same-sex partners from marriage and the privileges it entails "is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest." The trial court stayed the effect of its decision and certified the case for an immediate appeal.

APA's Position

This case poses fundamentally the same questions as the case in New Jersey, Lewis v. Harris and Oregon, Li v. Oregon in which APA filed amicus briefs. Although some details of the legal standards and specific arguments at issue in each of the cases may vary slightly, the psychological issues addressed by APA's amicus brief are essentially the same.

Results

In July 2006, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, voting 5-4, upheld Washington’s 1998 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibits same-sex marriages, holding that the legislature has the power under the Washington Constitution to limit marriage in Washington State to opposite-sex couples.  The fractured court produced six separate opinions – the plurality, two concurrences, and three dissents – totaling over 200 pages.  Both the plurality itself and other opinions discussed issues addressed in APA’s amicus brief, and one of the dissents focused on those issues.