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February 2010 Cover
February 2010 Cover

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February 2010 Email this to a friend
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Gay groups on the sidelines

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As a federal district court considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that repealed same-sex marriage in California, groups that usually argue in favor of gay civil rights are absent.
Many of the usual players -- Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights -- are on the sidelines. Instead, two relative newcomers to gay rights are making the case.
Theodore B Olson, a prominent conservative who was solicitor general under President George W Bush, and David Boies, a well-known liberal attorney, are the political odd couple arguing the case for two gay couples who say their constitutional rights were violated by voters in California.
Their audacious plan is to eventually force the US Supreme Court to rule on the issue. And this has gay groups quaking in their boots.
When Olson and Boies announced their lawsuit last May, activists sounded the alarm.
"A loss now may make it harder to go to court later," read a statement from the gay groups. "It will take us a lot longer to get a good Supreme Court decision if the Court has to overrule itself."
When it became clear the lawsuit would go forward, the gay groups tried to jump on the bandwagon. Olson and Boies politely declined, saying they wanted to keep their message "consistent" and "controlled."
Many rank-and-file gays are questioning the timing of the case, which comes after high-profile losses for same-sex marriage proponents in Maine, New York and New Jersey. Others are questioning the focus on marriage, saying the community needs to focus its resources elsewhere.


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