Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has attacked conservative lawyer Ted Olson's reasons for defending gay marriage. NOM, the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, is a major backer of the campaign to repeal gay marriage in Maine.

Olson and David Boies are representing a gay couple and a lesbian couple in their fight to strike down Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that bans gay marriage in California.

Writing at the National Review, Gallagher called Olson's defense a use of “the Constitution (IE the power of government) to impose your values.”

“I have seen the arguments he and David Boies are using in the case to strike down Prop 8 and impose gay marriage on all 50 states,” Gallagher said. “They are standard liberal fare – speaking constitutionally, not politically.”

Gallagher was rapped by comments Olson made on Sunday to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“If individuals love one another and want to live in a stable relationship recognized by the state as a community and a family, that strikes me as a conservative value,” Olson said, referring to conservatives who have questioned his values.

And in answering how he came to support gay rights, Olson said, “I've developed respect for people's decision in private sexual affairs. … These are our friends and our neighbors and our colleagues. We need to treat them as equals.”

A conservative Republican defending the rights of gay men and lesbians has shaken both liberals and conservatives who find it difficult to reconcile the idea.