The legal team of Theodore Olson and
David Boies got everything they wanted from federal district Judge
Vaughn Walker in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday. Walker set a
January 2010 trial date for their challenge to Proposition 8,
California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, and denied attempts by
gay rights groups to join the case, Reuters reported.
The Olson-Boies team are representing a
gay couple and a lesbian couple who would like to marry but cannot
because of the gay marriage ban. Their lawsuit argues that
Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against
gay men and lesbians.
The team argued against allowing three
gay rights groups – the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda
Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – to intervene
on behalf of the case, arguing that allowing the groups into the
legal fight would “pose a substantial risk of interference and
Walker, however, did allow the City and
County of San Francisco limited access to the case.
The groups wanted to get on-board after
publicly calling the challenge a “very high risk proposition.” A
loss in the Supreme Court, where the lawsuit is likely headed, they
contend, would cause the gay marriage movement irreparable harm.
Still, there are three additional
federal gay marriage suits winding their way to the Supreme Court.
In addition to the Olson-Boies challenge, a second gay couple is
suing in federal court to have their California marriage license
recognized by the federal government. The Massachusetts Attorney
General is suing the federal government on behalf of gay couples who
cannot access federal benefits because of the 1996 Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA). And a fourth suit, filed in Massachusetts by
gay rights group GLAD, also challenges DOMA on the grounds that
married gay and lesbian couples are denied federal recognition.
It was also the Olson-Boies team who
argued in favor of a trial. Proposition 8 supporters, led by
Charles Cooper, oppose a full trial. Cooper also argued that the
people of California have the right to ban gay marriage because it is
in the state's interest to limit marriage to a heterosexual union.
Judge Walker set a January 11, 2010
date to begin the trial.