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New Prop. 8 court challenge brings former legal rivals together

May 27, 2009 | 11:06 am

The California Supreme Court failed to protect gay couples' fundamental right to marry when it upheld Proposition 8, forcing same-sex couples to appeal to the federal courts to remedy the injustice, two prominent lawyers said today in announcing a lawsuit on behalf of two gay couples.

Me1_kkbemjnc Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, a renowned conservative, and David Boies, who opposed Olson in Bush v. Gore in the 2000 fight over the presidential election, cast their collaborative effort to restore the right of gays to marry in California as a moral imperative to correct an injustice. Their suit seeks an immediate injunction on Prop. 8's ban, thereby allowing same-sex marriages to resume while the case makes its way through the federal court system.

But Olson's role in the gay rights mission prompted much speculation about his motives. The former Bush administration official, who lost his wife in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, conceded that the federal courts might not be ready to recognize sexual orientation as a class in need of protection from discrimination, but he said he hoped "that people don't suspect my motives," vowing to demonstrate his commitment to equal rights by winning the challenge.

Boies vouched for Olson as "committed in heart and soul to equality and committed in heart and soul to the Constitution."

Both lawyers, flanked by the two gay couples they represent in the lawsuit, compared the fight for same-sex marriage rights to previous civil rights campaigns and said it was wrong to urge their clients to wait for their fundamental rights for another decade or longer because of the current conservative domination of the federal bench.

--Carol J. Williams

Interact140 Interactive map of milestones in the gay marriage battle and how state laws have changed since 2000

Photos: Attorneys Theodore B. Olson, right, and David Boies take questions during a press conference Wednesday morning at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  Credit: Al  Seib  / Los Angeles Times