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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 5
Pitching President Obama on Prop 8
Section One
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Pitching President Obama on Prop 8

Attorneys take their case directly to the White House

by Daniel Hanks - SGN Contributing Writer

The lawyers on both sides of the current Supreme Court battle on same-sex marriage have gone directly into the Department of Justice and pitched Solicitor General Donald Verrilli as well as other top Obama administration lawyers.

On January 18, the powerhouse team representing Gay couples and challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage, Theodore Olson and David Boies, requested that the administration back their claim of a constitutional right to such unions across the country by filing an amicus brief in the case.

Then, on January 24, another attorney, longtime Prop 8 defender Charles Cooper, requested that the government keep its hands off this one.

Lawyers who attended these private sessions said government attorneys did not appear to have been swayed either way. Typically, officials do not make their choices in the moment, and it could be weeks before any brief is filed.

President Obama has strongly endorsed Gay marriage, reaffirming that support in his January 21 inaugural speech, but he has also suggested that the federal government should not take control of the issue away from the states.

CIVIL RIGHTS PARALLELS
The arguments presented were very similar to briefs used in the earlier meetings.

According to lawyers in the meeting, Olson insisted that the administration should definitely intervene at such a historic time. He likened the idea that states need extra time to solve the Gay marriage question to the "states' rights" claim by opponents of African-American equality, at a time when state laws across the South forbade Blacks and whites from sharing public accommodations such as restrooms and water fountains.

Cooper, who worked in the Reagan administration, asserted that marriage is strictly a state issue, and therefore no federal attention was warranted in the case of Prop 8. He even quoted President Obama from a May 2012 interview with ABC News, in which the president hailed the "healthy process" and "healthy debate" occurring in the states.

Two cases will be heard by the Supreme Court over two days: the Prop 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) on March 26 and the Defense of Marriage Act case (Windsor v. U.S.A.) on March 27.

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