Gay rights groups have altered course
and joined a federal gay marriage lawsuit likely headed to the
Supreme Court, the AP reported.
In legal briefs filed Thursday, the
National Center for Lesbian Right, Lambda Legal and the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) backed a federal lawsuit spearheaded by
former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and David Boies.
The two legal titans are representing a
gay couple and a lesbian couple who would like to marry in California
but cannot because of Proposition 8, the state's voter-approved gay
marriage ban upheld as constitutional by the state Supreme Court in
May. The lawsuit argues that Proposition 8 violates the U.S.
Previously the ACLU had called fighting
the gay marriage ban in federal court a “very high risk
“Successful change involves building
blocks,” Matt Coles, director of ACLU's LGBT project, told the Wall
Street Journal's law blog. “You build constitutional
principles alongside efforts at the societal and legislative levels.
They're jumping over the process and going straight to the end. From
where we sit, this is a very high-risk proposition.”
“In our view, the best way to win
marriage equality nationally is to continue working state by state,
not to bring premature federal challenges that pose a very high risk
of setting a negative U.S. Supreme Court precedent,” Shannon
Minter, legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, told
While a win in the Supreme Court would
open gay marriage nationwide, a loss would likely set the movement
back possibly decades; leaving gay activists to call the move
Early on, gay rights groups and
activists questioned the motivations behind the lawsuit. Olson in
particular was singled out for his long record of counseling
conservative, often anti-gay, leaders, former President Bush
included. The three groups now say they support the federal lawsuit
and the arguments of Olson and Boies.