Dozens of prominent Republicans have signed a legal brief being sent to the Supreme Court this week arguing that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry—a position that is not only a direct challenge to House Republicans, who are defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act to the high court, but also a complete reversal for many of the signees.
The New York Times, which was given an early look at the brief, with the details:
The Proposition 8 case already has a powerful conservative supporter: Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush and one of the suit’s two lead lawyers. The amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief is being filed with Mr. Olson’s blessing. It argues, as he does, that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couples to grow up in two-parent homes, and that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”
Legal analysts said the brief had the potential to sway conservative justices as much for the prominent names attached to it as for its legal arguments. The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.
Among the most well-known Republicans on the list are: Meg Whitman, who supported Prop 8 during her California gubernatorial run; Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who opposed same-sex marriage (but favored civil unions) during his bid to become the 2012 GOP presidential nominee; Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; former governors Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, and William Weld and Jane Swift of Massachusetts; along with a handful of former members of the George W. Bush administration, including Carlos Gutierrez and James Comey.
The brief is still a work-in-progress and other Republicans could still sign on, but for now it has a few noticeable absences, including Laura Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, who all publicly favor same-sex marriage. The high court is slated to hear back-to-back arguments in March on the legal challenge to Prop 8 and DOMA.