Thursday, May 28, 2009

New member on the marriage equality legal team: Ted Olson!

That's right. In one of the more delightfully-surprising double-takes we've seen, the former Bush Administration Solicitor General has just joined the legal team fighting in federal courts to overturn all gay-marriage bans and instill marriage equality for homosexuals.

Former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson is part of a team that has filed suit in federal court in California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 and re-establish the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The suit argues that the state's marriage ban, upheld Tuesday by the California Supreme Court, violates the federal constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. The complaint was filed Friday, and Olson and co-counsel David Boies -- who argued against Olson in the Bush v. Gore case -- will hold a news conference in Los Angeles Wednesday to explain the case. The conference will feature the two same-sex couples on whose behalf Olson filed suit.

The suit also asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to issue an injunction that would stop enforcement of Proposition 8 and allow same-sex couples to marry while the case is being decided.

While this definitely does sound like excellent news – always fun to have another high-ranking official on the side of reason and compassion – some will undoubtedly argue this is just a lawyer defending his client. Lawyers aren't generally known to be scrupulous and to stick to what they personally believe in in order to do their jobs in court, after all, routinely persecuting the innocent or defending the devils. So, here's what Olson has to say about it all. It's definitely gotten me convinced.

I asked Olson about the objections of conservatives who will argue that he is asking a court to overturn the legitimately-expressed will of the people of California. "It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution," Olson said. "The constitution protects individuals' basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote. If the people of California had voted to ban interracial marriage, it would have been the responsibility of the courts to say that they cannot do that under the constitution. We believe that denying individuals in this category the right to lasting, loving relationships through marriage is a denial to them, on an impermissible basis, of the rights that the rest of us enjoy…I also personally believe that it is wrong for us to continue to deny rights to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation."

*Raises glass in honor*

He was a little broad in saying that it's wrong to deny anyone marriage rights based on their sexual orientations, but I think he meant it strictly for genders (male-male, male-female, female-female), rather than sexualities (-philias). Which, of course, is nothing any rational person can honestly dispute.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)


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