Last night I was alerted by one of our readers (Rome) via a comment on my last Proposition 8 article that the fight for gay marriage equality is now going Federal! (Thanks Rome for the awesome information!)
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson & Attorney David Boies, who argued against each other in the Bush vs. Gore contested election, announced yesterday that they are bringing fight against Proposition 8 to the federal level. The two high profile lawyers held a press conference yesterday announcing that, they (as The American Foundation for Equal Rights) have filed a federal lawsuit against Proposition 8. The case was filed in U.S. Discrict Court in northern California and asked for an immediate injunction against Prop. 8 until the federal court is resolved.
Olson, a prominent Republican says, “It’s not about liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We’re here in part to symbolize that. This case is about the equal rights guaranteed to every American under the United States constitution… For too long, gay men and lesbians who seek stable committed, loving relationships within the institution of marriage have been denied that fundamental right.”
He also indicates that he asked Boies, a Democrat, to join his team to present “a united front” in the suit filed on behalf of two same-sex couples who wish to be married but, because of Proposition 8, have been denied licenses.
“Our Constitution guarantees every American the right to be treated equally under the law,” Boies said. “There is no right more fundamental than the right to marry the person that you love and to raise a family.”
“The courts exist to reverse injustices,” he added “This is not a question of state law. It’s a question of federal Constitutional law.”
At the press conference, the two were quizzed by the LGBT community about their motives behind the lawsuit since neither have historically been considered “pro-gay”. They were asked about why it is a federal case, if they have any gay family members, the lawsuit of the timing, etc…
The Washington Examiner quotes Olson:
“I personally think it is time that we as a nation get past distinguishing people on the basis of sexual orientation, and that a grave injustice is being done to people by making these distinctions. I thought their cause was just. 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. 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.”
Mr. Olson- we couldn’t agree more!
My good friend David’s boyfriend, who is a lawyer, also made an interesting point this morning:
[Theodore Olson] was actually awarded the spot of Solicitor General under Bush, the SG is, for lack of a better explanation, the President’s attorney for cases before the supreme court. They are in front of the Supreme Court more than any other lawyer. For example, Ken Starr was George Bush Sr.’s Solicitor General.
This is huge since Justice Kennedy is likely to be the swing vote if the case ever makes it to the Supreme Court. He is unpredictable, but having such a staunch conservative lawyer arguing in partnership with a staunch liberal lawyer together saying that Proposition 8 violates a whole host of constitutional issues [will be very effective]. [They assert that upholding Proposition 8 commits] 14th amendment Due Process violations, 14th amendment Equal Protection violations, violates the precedent in Loving v. Virginia that Marriage is a fundamental right (the case dealt with a law that disallowed opposite race marriages). etc.”
They are hitting this from ALL angles.
On the other side of the debate, some supporters of gay marriage are warning that a federal lawsuit could set the fight for marriage equality back. The group Freedom to Marry, along with a coatilition of LGBT groups, issued a press release with a new publication entitled “Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California, saying, “This publication discourages people from bringing premature lawsuits based on the federal Constitution because, without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court likely is not yet ready to rule that same-sex couples cannot be barred from marriage.”
Either way, it’s clear that the fight for marriage equality in California, and the U.S. as a whole, is FAR from over. Equality will come.
Since the announcement of the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, we’ve seen so many wonderful things taking place. Whether it’s rallies, protests, articles, or this lawsuit- people are mobilizing, getting energized and gearing up to bring the fight! Two of the most inspiring things that have been passed my way are an article by Rob Thomas, titled “The Big Gay Chip on My Shoulder” and the video of a non-violent civil disobediance protest that took place in California. Read Rob Thomas’ article… it’s brilliantly written and makes some excellent points, and watch the short video below. I guarantee it’ll leave you feeling more positive and ready to do whatever it takes to bring marriage equality to California and the United States as a nation.