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Prop 8 attorneys confident court will strike down marriage ban

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Monday, December 10, 2012
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The organizers behind the lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8 are excited and optimistic about the prospects for a Supreme Court ruling against the anti-gay measure as one attorney on the team said he hopes the Obama administration will assist in the effort.

Ted Olson, a co-counsel in the Prop 8 lawsuit, made the remarks during a conference call on Friday in response to a question from Politico’s Josh Gerstein. Olson said a friend-of-the-court brief from the Justice Department would have “great effect” in the effort to overturn Prop 8.

Ted Olson
File photo by Michael Key, Washington Blade

“I would hate to predict what the United States government is doing, but given the stand the president of the United States and the attorney general of the United States made with respect to marriage equality, we would certainly hope that they would participate,” Olson said. “And I’m quite confident that if they did participate, they would support our position in this case because the denial of equal rights is subject to close scrutiny by the courts and cannot withstand that scrutiny.”

Olson said if the Obama administration were to file a brief before the Supreme Court in the Prop 8 case, it would do so at about the same time it would file a brief in the DOMA case. The Justice Department has already filed briefs against DOMA in lower courts.

The Obama administration has thus far stayed out of the Prop 8 case. Asked in September by the Washington Blade whether the U.S. government would weigh in, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had no comment and Nanda Chitre, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, said, “We are not a party to this litigation and would decline further comment.”

That might change now that the Supreme Court has taken up the case. Like other interested parties, the Justice Department will have an opportunity to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the upcoming days as the court accepts other briefs in the lawsuit.

The organization behind the lawsuit, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, held the conference call in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Prop 8 case as well as one of the cases against the Defense of Marriage Act known as Windsor v. United States.

Olson was confident about a positive outcome for same-sex couples, saying the denial of their marriage rights will receive significant attention simply by being before the Supreme Court.

“We have an exhaustive record on which to build this case, and it will be an education for the American people,” Olson said. “We are very confident the outcome of this case will be to support the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

David Boies, co-counsel in the lawsuit, said the decision of the Supreme Court to take up the case means only a short time remains before a final resolution is reached in the Prop 8 case.

“We are now literally within months of getting a final resolution of this case that began three-and-a-half years ago,” Boies said. “I think we are encouraged and excited about the prospect that we will finally get a decision on the merits with respect to marriage equality. This is a momentous case; I think the attention that it has already received by the Supreme Court indicates their recognition of the importance of this issue.”

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