In a major double take moment, Ted Olson – former Solicitor General and one of the grand old lions among judicial conservatives – has joined the legal team fighting in federal court to overturn all bans on gay marriage and argue for a federal constitutional right to marry someone of the same sex.
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.
Just a lawyer defending his client? Maybe. But look at what he personally has to say about it outside the legal briefs:
“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,” Olson told me Tuesday night. “I thought their cause was just.”
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.”
I couldn’t be more surprised if you told me Robert Bork was defending a pornographer. Bravo, Ted Olson. Bravo.