Super Bowl, World Series champs back marriage equality in Supreme Court brief

Supreme Court

Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013. Thousands of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and politicians who are filing legal briefs at the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. The cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee will be argued April 28, and a decision is expected by early summer. J. Scott Applewhite, AP (File)

Supreme CourtJ. Scott Applewhite, AP (File)

Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2013. Thousands of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and politicians who are filing legal briefs at the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. The cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee will be argued April 28, and a decision is expected by early summer.

WASHINGTON — The New England Patriots support marriage equality for same-sex couples. So do the San Francisco Giants.

The reigning baseball and football champions, along with baseball’s small-market Tampa Bay Rays, are among the thousands of businesses, religious groups, advocacy organizations and politicians who are filing legal briefs at the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage.

The cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee will be argued April 28, and a decision is expected by early summer.

Roughly six dozen briefs backing pro-gay rights plaintiffs in the four states are expected by the Friday deadline. Included is a “people’s brief” filed by the Human Rights Campaign with the signatures of 207,551 people.

The Super Bowl champion Patriots, the World Series-winning Giants and the Rays are part of a brief from hundreds of U.S. businesses.

The Patriots play in Massachusetts, the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry, and the Giants represent a city that is notable for its gay and lesbian community.

Rays president Brian Auld said it was important that his team stand up, as well.

“We’re a small but visible business and I actually think it’s important that we send this signal of inclusion to the entire region,” Auld said in a telephone interview Thursday as he watched the Rays’ first spring training game in Port Charlotte, Florida.

The team also has participated in the “It Gets Better” project to encourage gay and lesbian teenagers who’ve been bullied.

“Our players have traditionally been supportive of these kinds of things,” Auld said.

Mayors of 226 U.S. cities also are expressing their support for same-sex marriage. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he is not sure how his constituents feel about the issue, but said it wouldn’t affect his view either way. “I don’t think constitutional rights are subject to public opinion,” Cranley said.

Four couples from California and Virginia who had wanted the court to use their cases to settle the issue of same-sex marriage nationwide also are calling on the justices to strike down state gay-marriage bans everywhere.

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