Skip to content


News Posted on March 5, 2014

Professor Joslin Co-authors Brief for Utah's Same-sex Marriage Case

Professor Courtney Joslin has co-authored an amicus brief filed with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of 40 Family and Child Welfare Professors asking the Court to affirm the lower court ruling which found Utah's ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional. The marriage ban, the Professors write, undermines rather than furthers the state's interests in children and child welfare.

The brief, which Joslin wrote with Professors Joan Heifetz Hollinger of UC Berkeley and Laura Kessler of the University of Utah, rejects the state's contention that the ban is permissible because same-sex couples do not have children who are biologically related to both parents. As they write, "Utah, like all other states, has never required prospective spouses to agree to procreate, to remain open to procreation, or even to be able to procreate as a condition of marrying."

Marriage, the Professors explain, has always served many purposes, not just ones related to procreation and children. Equally important, "Appellants' assertion about optimal childrearing is... at odds with the social science consensus demonstrating that the key factors for positive outcomes for children are the quality of the parent-child relationship, and the relationship and resources of the parents, not the parents' gender or sexual orientation."

In the end, the Professors argue, denying marriage to same-sex couples undermines the well-being of children. While the ban does nothing to help children raised by different-sex couples, it inflicts direct and palpable "harms on the children of same-sex couples by denying their families access to hundreds of critical state and federal marital benefits that are conducive to providing stable and secure environments for raising children."

The Family Law Professors are represented by Rita Lin and Laura Weissbein of Morrison and Foerster LLP.