More than 250 civil rights organisations have presented a court with statements in support of same-sex marriage rights in California.
The California Court of Appeal is currently hearing a state government appeal case against a 2005 Superior Court ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state’s constitution.
The California Council of Churches and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are among the organisations calling for equal marriage rights.
Executive director of the California Council of Churches Rick Schlosser said it should be up to individual parishes to determine what marriages they would or would not bless.
It is a matter of religious freedom to allow faith communities to practise their faith by performing and blessing marriages between same-sex couples who wish to make such a commitment to each other, while allowing denominations that oppose such marriages to refrain from doing so, he said.
The California Council of Churches represents more than 1.5 million Protestant and Orthodox church-goers.
Alice Huffman, president of the California Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, said this was the first time such a diverse array of civil rights groups joined together with a single goal.
I am proud to join with other civil rights leaders in standing up for fairness and dignity for all, Huffman said. The Association has asked the Appeals court to apply the ruling in Perez v. Sharp, a 1948 California Supreme Court decision that removed a ban on inter-racial marriage.
Other organisations who wrote briefs to the court included the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund, the Japanese American Bar Association, the California Women’s Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.
As an Asian American whose ancestors were denied equal rights and protections under California law, I recognise the profound harm caused by denying lesbian and gay people the ability to protect their families through marriage, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach attorney Victor Hwang said.