Ted Olson’s Other Unlikely Partner: Wife Lady Booth Olson
Much has been made of the fact that a former U.S. Solicitor General under George W. Bush--and the very man who represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the 2000 election battle--teamed up with a liberal counterpart, David Boies (the same man Olson opposed in Bush v. Gore) in defending the rights of gay and lesbian families. The two onetime adversaries united to mount a formidable challenge to Proposition 8 in a suit that recently resulted in a verdict that the anti-gay ballot initiative is unconstitutional.
But Ted Olson has another unlikely partner in his life: longtime Democrat Lady Booth Olson, his wife. ("Lady" is Booth Olson’s first name, not a title; it was given her in memory of a great-aunt, and is not an uncommon name in the South, from which Booth Olson hails.)
The New York Times ran a profile on the couple on Aug. 18. The profile recounted how the two met through friends, and how Booth Olson, a lawyer who had preserved the audio-only broadcast from C-SPAN of Olson defending Bush before the Supreme Court in 2000, was skeptical. Booth Olson told the New York Times that she listened to the tapes she’d made once more, "and I remembered, ’Oh my God, he was Bush, not Gore,’ so I called her back and said, ’This is not going to work.’ "
However, the man she met in person won her over and the two eventually married. Olson had previously been married to conservative commentator Barbara Olson, who was killed during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But while his new wife has "certainly influenced my views [with] her ideas, her approach, her feelings," Olson was less converted to the cause of equality by Booth Olson than supported by her as he undertook the suit that challenged the constitutionality of rescinding legal rights for minorities at the ballot box. As Lady Booth Olson put it, the issue was not about political left versus political right, but rather a matter "of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and discrimination is something that offends at any time."
Of the influx of mail that her husband has received from grateful GLBTs, Booth Olson said, "They’re incredibly moving from people who have experienced discrimination. There are so many, it’s hard to keep track of them. But I’m trying to document them, hearing their stories and their reasons for wanting to marry." Booth Olson has made it her project to read and answer those letters, and may prepare a book culled from the letters, the article said.
Though Booth Olson says she cannot take credit for her husband’s defense of the rights of gay and lesbian families--"In my innermost thoughts, I like to think he thought that on some level, but Ted’s never said that.... He owns his own decisions," she told the publication--she did speak to her own feelings as she watched the 11-day trial last year as her husband and David Boies argued their case before Judge Vaughn Walker.
"During the trial, I kept looking down at my wedding ring and thinking, ’Gosh, I am so lucky to be here,’ " the article recounted her as saying. "I waited until 45 to get married, taking it for granted the entire time."