An Open Letter to Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

January 8, 2014

Dear Justice Sotomayor,

I am writing to you with anxiety in my chest and my heart sinking as I read the news that Utah will not recognize the nearly 1,000 marriages to same-sex couples, which it previously made legal, following the stay you imposed.

As I understand it, stays are granted based on four considerations under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Thank you to Amy Dardashtian for her HuffPo article clarifying this.)

  1. that the requesting party demonstrates a likelihood it will succeed on the merits in its appeal;
  2. that no stay will result in irreparable harm to the requesting party;
  3. that there will be injury to other parties and
  4. in consideration of the public interest.

I can only conclude that this means you granted this stay because you were convinced that either:

  1. you feel Utah is likely to succeed on its appeal
  2. or that the state and its citizens will be harmed by gay couples getting married in the interim and that it is in the public’s interest to stop the marriages from continuing.

As a gay man, I am unsure how to react to this news.  Growing up, I always believed that, as Americans, equality and the “pursuit of happiness” were givens… sometimes fought for but ultimately won.  But it appears you and your fellow justices have, for the time being, decided otherwise.  While I commend you on your decisions against California’s Prop 8 and against DOMA, I can’t help but be bewildered by your decision to put a stay on the case in Utah.

If I may, I ask you to consider the following questions.

  • What harm could possibly be caused by allowing gay couples to be married?
  • How can the marriage of two consenting adults, who happen to be of the same gender, impact anyone else?

Contrary to what some in the Conservative media claim, the LGBT community is not trying to infringe upon “traditional marriage” nor diminish the value of marriage.  We don’t even care if a given religion chooses not to perform or condone our ceremony.  We only want to be treated equally under the law.

In truth, there is evidence that this discrimination causes real harm to people in the LGBT community.

I hope that, when the time comes and if there is good in the world it will come soon, you and your fellow justices will determine that all marriages, regardless of the two individuals involved and regardless of State in which they are solemnized, are treated equally under a united law.  After all, we are the United States of America. We are a beacon of hope for many countries.  We should be an example for acceptance, equality, and togetherness.


W. Thomas Adkins

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Justice Sonia Sotomayor

  1. This is great! So well written. It sickens me that this is even an issue in the modern day. I don’t understand the logic behind it and I never have. Love is something to celebrate, not something to acknowledge in such a limited scope. I can’t even put myself in the shoes of someone who is affected by this. I married my husband almost three years ago and I would never seek to take something like that away from another human being. You rock!

    • Thank you so much! I was (am) so frustrated with the current state of affairs regarding this issue that I had to write it out. I did print and mail this to Justice Sotomayor and even posted it through the Supreme Court’s Contact Us page on their website. Even if it doesn’t get all the way to her I hope others will read it and come to understand why it is so important that this issue be resolved now. It is hurting so many people who simply want to claim the rights that others are already guaranteed.

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