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Marriage-equality voices broaden as Supreme Court appearance approaches

| Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Prominent Republicans, retired military leaders and businesses are among the factions ready to ask the Supreme Court to support marriage equality in two cases up for argument next month.

The effort is being coordinated by gay-rights groups and is designed to show justices the rapid and widespread evolution of views about same-sex marriage, which is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. Religious leaders, labor groups and gay people who live in states that prohibit them from marrying are weighing in.

The justices will hear the dispute over California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on March 26, followed a day later by a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision that denies legally married gay couples a range of federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

Mary Bonauto, the director of the Civil Rights Project at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders who is coordinating legal briefs that are due at the court later this week, said that the military, business, labor and other filings will have a “truth-telling function” about the reality of life for gays and lesbians, and they will share a common theme. “Gay and lesbian families and their children are here to stay,” Bonauto said.

Businesses that have signed onto the brief in the California case include Apple, eBay, Facebook, Intel, Morgan Stanley, Nike and Xerox. “We file this brief to add more voices to the growing chorus that Proposition 8, and similar laws barring equal access to marriage for same-sex couples, are unconstitutional and should be invalidated,” the companies say, according to a draft of the brief provided by the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe law firm. California is among 30 states with constitutional provisions that prohibit same-sex marriage. Roughly 10 others do so by statute.

A much larger group of companies is expected to support overturning the Defense of Marriage Act measure.

Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who came out as gay in 2010, has worked over several months to compile a list of Republicans willing to step forward in support of gay marriage.

Among the Republicans joining in support of gay marriage are former presidential candidates Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson, former Govs. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and Paul Cellucci, Jane Swift and William Weld of Massachusetts.

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