Jan 11 2010

Olsen Bois This appears to be the week where there are a number of 'must read' articles in publications. In a powerful story, Newsweek gives wide exposure to Ted Olson the life-long Republican attorney who has teamed with David Bois to overturn the passage of Proposition 8. With these type of articles in the mainstream press, it is increasingly apparent that this case, win or lose, will take on historical proportions.

In "The Conscience of a Conservative" by Eve Conant, Olson is described in riveting detail:

Ted Olson would seem the unlikeliest champion of gay marriage. Now 69 years old, he is one of the more prominent Republicans in Washington, and among the most formidable conservative lawyers in the country. As head of the Office of Legal Counsel under Ronald Reagan, he argued for ending racial preferences in schools and hiring, which he saw—and still sees—as a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. Years later, he advised Republicans in their efforts to impeach President Clinton. In 2000 he took the "Bush" side in Bush v. Gore, out-arguing his adversary (and friend) David Boies before the Supreme Court and ushering George W. Bush into the White House. As solicitor general under Bush, he defended the president's claims of expanded wartime powers. (Olson's wife at the time, Barbara, died on American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.) Olson has won three quarters of the 56 cases he has argued before the high court. Feather quills commemorating each case, and signed thank-you photos from presidents, cover the walls of his Washington office.

There is no question that this is a case not to be used, abused or played with by our national organizations. We should let these incredibly powerful and eloquent lawyers make their case, present it properly to the public and keep our fingers crossed for their success. The article ends with:

"In fact, Olson is surprisingly emotional about the case, and his eyes mist up repeatedly when he talks about the hundreds of letters—positive and negative—that he's received. "We should be welcoming our gay colleagues and friends as equals," he says. Kristin Perry, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says that whenever Ted sees her and her partner, Sandy Stier, "he tells us, 'I think about you two every day. This is the reason I've taken this case.'" Some conservatives, still trying to figure out what happened to their old friend, have asked him when he decided he was for gay marriage. Olson seems puzzled by the question. "I don't know that I was ever against it."