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Republicans Advocate Same-Sex Marriage Rights in Court Filing

A group of current and former Republican lawmakers, including two members of Congress, will file a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that same-sex couples have the right to marry in one of two cases on the issue that the Supreme Court will hear next month.

The court filing, which was first reported late Monday by The New York Times, has been signed by Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York. Other signatories include former Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, former National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who has been a GOP presidential candidate, has also signed the filing. As of Monday night, there were 75 individuals onboard, the Times reported.

The Supreme Court is hearing two arguments in late March related to same-sex marriage. The first, in which the Republican lawmakers plan to file the brief, is a case from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that asks the court to decide the constitutionality of a 2008 California ballot proposition that amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The next day, the justices will examine the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. The 1996 law recognizes only heterosexual marriages for federal and interstate purposes such as income taxes and health insurance.

Republican leadership, using the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group in the House, began defending the statute in courts after the Obama administration said it would no longer do so.

Both Hanna and Ros-Lehtinen have taken public positions on same-sex unions that diverge from the party’s platform in the past. Earlier this month, Hanna signed on to legislation introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor partners for attaining legal residency as part of an immigration overhaul package. Ros-Lehtinen was the first Republican to co-sponsor a Nadler bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Hanna and Ros-Lehtinen are the only Republicans listed as members of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

Neither office immediately responded Tuesday morning when asked to comment on the friend-of-the-court filing.

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