By Lisa Keen
The talk of many political pundits this week is a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court filed by a group of prominent Republicans that argues that California’s Proposition 8, banning marriage for same-sex couples, violates the federal constitutional rights of gay people.
The brief has not yet been filed with the Supreme Court but was reported on Monday (Feb. 25) by the New York Times, which was given an advance copy of the document. Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg said she could not release the brief or the list of signers to other reporters, and attempts to obtain the brief elsewhere have been, so far, unsuccessful.
But, according to Stolberg’s article, the brief argues that California’s ban, as well as “all similar bans,” violates the U.S. constitution. As of Monday, she reported, 75 people had signed onto the amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief, including “a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers.”
Signers identified by the Times include former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 in 2008, two years prior to her unsuccessful bid for office. Former Republican governors Christine Whitman of New Jersey, William Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift of Massachusetts, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Jon Huntsman of Utah have also signed the brief.
Other signers include U.S. Reps. Richard Hanna of New York and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and former Reps. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, Mary Bono Mack and Michael Huffington of California, and Connie Morella of Maryland.
Signers also include numerous officials from the administration of President Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, including Reagan White House Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein and Reagan budget director David Stockman.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights issued a press release Tuesday (February 26) saying the signers include more than 80 “political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians,” including openly gay former U.S. Rep. James Kolbe and openly gay Mary Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
AFER’s list also identifies signers to include Republican media advisor Alex Castellanos and numerous officials from the 2012 Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.
Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gergory Angelo said the list is important because “Republicans who support the freedom to marry for committed gay and lesbian couples can no longer be dismissed as a small fringe of the party.”
“The individuals who signed on to this Proposition 8 brief are some of the party’s most respected and influential individuals,” said Angelo. “They understand that there is a conservative case to be made for marriage equality, and we hope other Republican leaders follow their bold lead and support marriage for all Americans.”
Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson said the list demonstrates that support for marriage equality “mainstream position that reflects American values of freedom, family, and fairness, as well as conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility.”
The Times reported that the openly gay former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, spent “months” quietly gathering signatures from Republican peers.
According to the Times, the brief cites some very high-profile Supreme Court decisions in its reasoning, including the controversial campaign finance decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, and a controversial gun ownership case, D.C. v. Heller.
Producers of the brief have until Friday (February 28) to submit it to the court. At that time, it will become a public document available through the court’s website.
The U.S. Supreme Court will oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case on March 26. It will hear arguments in the DOMA case March 27. Briefs in support of striking down DOMA are due March 13.
Link to AFER list of who signed:
Link to NYTimes article: