Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Prop 8 Ruling
In a bold move that takes a new approach to achieving marriage equality, two attorneys who argued opposing sides of the 2000 Bush v. Gore lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court have filed a challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court.
Theodore B. Olson, the U.S. solicitor general from 2001 to 2004 under President George W. Bush, and David Boies, a high-profile trial lawyer who argued on behalf of former vice president Al Gore, filed the suit May 22 in U.S. district court on behalf of two California gay couples.
The attorneys argue that relegating same-sex couples to domestic partnerships instead of granting them full marriage rights is a violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Olson said he was contacted several months ago by representatives of an association called the American Foundation for Equal Rights about his willingness to represent the two couples named in the suit.
“For a long time I’ve personally felt that we are doing a grave injustice for people throughout this country by denying equality to gay and lesbian individuals,” Olson said in an interview with The Advocate. “The individuals that we represent and will be representing in this case feel they’re being denied their rights. And they’re entitled to have a court vindicate those rights.”
When pressed about his service with the Bush administration, which in 2004 endorsed an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage, Olson said he was personally against the amendment at the time, though he made no public statements on the matter.
As for the timing of the suit, Olson said that recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court “make it clear that individuals are entitled to be treated equally under the Constitution. I’m reasonably confident that this is the right time for these [injustices] to be vindicated.”
Olson, Boies, and other attorneys working on the suit are being compensated by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Olson said his law firm and others also are contributing resources pro bono.