The American Bar Association has adopted a resolution calling on governments at every level to eliminate all the legal barriers that prevent to same-sex couples from being joined in marriage.
"The American Bar Association urges state, territorial, and tribal governments to eliminate all of their legal barriers to civil marriage between two persons of the same sex who are otherwise eligible to marry," states Resolution 111, which the ABA House of Delegates adopted Wednesday at its annual meeting in San Francisco.
According to a report submitted in support of the resolution, the extension of equal marriage rights to same-sex couples is consistent with constitutional principles of equal protection and due process, as well as the states' strong interest in protecting and fostering the family unit.
"The historic action taken today represents another promising step on the path toward equal rights for same-sex couples," commented Stephen P. Younger, president of the New York State Bar Association, which was a lead sponsor of the resolution.
"I want to commend the members of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates for working with the New York State Bar Association and other bar associations to help in the effort to end this injustice against lesbian and gay people and their families," he added.
According to reports, the resolution passed overwhelmingly with only vote made against the measure.
Ahead of the resolution's passage, the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund stressed that the ABA does not speak for all U.S. lawyers and noted how three-quarters of American lawyers do not belong to the ABA.
"The fact that ADF and other lawyers disagree with ABA on a number of controversial issues demonstrates the gross inaccuracy of ABA's claim that it speaks for the U.S. legal profession," remarked ADF Senior Legal Counsel Doug Napier, who resigned from the ABA because of its stance on controversial political issues.
In the past, ABA has advocated for abortion rights, civil trial for suspected terrorists, and repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The association's 1992 abortion policy prompted many of its member lawyers to leave and lead to the formation of the pro-life National Lawyers Association.
"The ABA was not originally designed to endorse political agendas," Napier explained in a statement last week. "But in recent years, it has joined hands with groups like the ACLU on a number of societal issues and wrongly asserts that it speaks for the legal profession."
"We urge the ABA to abandon its divisive political agenda and return to its original non-partisan mission…," the conservative lawyer stated.
Notably, the adoption of resolution 111 on Wednesday came one week after U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
And the keynote speaker of the 2010 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco was David Boies, who co-counseled with Ted Olson to overturn Prop. 8.
Prop. 8, which California voters passed in 2008, effectively defined marriage in the state's constitution as the union of one man and one woman.
Last week, however, Walker determined that people of the same sex do have the right to marry and that the decision of the majority to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman violates that right.
On Thursday, Walker denied a motion to stay the judgment he made, effectively allowing gay marriages to resume in the state starting next Wednesday.
In an 11-page ruling, the judge said proponents of the stay did not show a likelihood of success on appeal nor the possibility of any irreparable harm absent a stay.
ADF, which has been defending California's Prop. 8, announced immediately after Walker's ruling that it would appeal to the 9th Circuit to stay the trial court's decision until the case is concluded.