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Bush vs. Gore rivals challenge Prop. 8 in federal court

May 26, 2009 |  5:29 pm

Two prominent attorneys who argued on opposite sides of Bush vs. Gore, the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, announced Tuesday that they will challenge Proposition 8 in federal court and seek to restore gay marriage until the case is decided.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented then-Vice President Al Gore in the contested election, have joined forces to tackle the same-sex marriage issue, which has deeply divided Californians and left 18,000 gay couples married last year in legal isolation.

In a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Olson and Boies have united to represent two same-sex couples filing suit after being denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

Their suit, to be filed in U.S. District Court in California, calls for an injunction against the proposition, allowing immediate reinstatement of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The California Supreme Court ruled in May 2008 that state law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the privacy, due process and equal protection guarantees of the California Constitution.

But in November, voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to restrict marriage to between a man and a woman. The high court upheld the voter initiative in a 6-1 ruling today, with  Justice Carlos Moreno dissenting.

Legal scholars have observed that proponents of gay marriage have avoided taking the issue to federal court so far because of the dominance of conservative judges and justices on the federal bench after the eight-year tenure of President George W. Bush.

The U.S. Supreme Court has what usually results in a 5-4 majority against extending rights to gays by recognizing sexual orientation as a vulnerable class of citizens in need of protection.

And all but one of the 13 federal appeals circuits has a reliable conservative majority. Even the exception, the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, experienced a curtailing of its liberal orientation with Bush’s seven appointments.

-- Carol J. Williams

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