75 Republicans Sign Supreme Court Brief in Support of Gay Marriage
At least 75 prominent Republicans have signed a legal brief that argues gay marriage is a constitutional right, the New York Times reports.
The document will be submitted to the Supreme Court this week and will support a lawsuit that aims to take down Proposition 8. The court will also hear arguments next month against the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars same-sex marriage on a federal level. The high court is expected to rule on the cases in early summer.
The conservatives who signed the brief are mostly out-of-office Republicans and former top officials who have not voiced their support for marriage equality. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld and Jane Swift, and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, have all signed the document. Additionally, Meg Whitman, who supported Prop 8 when she ran for California governor, Stephen J. Hadley, a George W. Bush national security adviser and James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official, signed the brief.
"Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too," Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House of Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress and signed the document, told the newspaper.
Some pundits suggest that the filing could drive the wedge between Republicans who support gay marriage and those who don’t even further.
"The ground on this is obviously changing, but it is changing more rapidly than people think," John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former House leadership aide who did not sign the brief told the Times. "I think that Republicans in the future are going to be a little bit more careful about focusing on these issues that tend to divide the party.
The publisher of Scotusblog, a blog that analyzes Supreme Court cases, said the brief "has the potential to break through and make a real difference."
"The person who is going to decide this case, if it’s going to be close, is going to be a conservative justice who respects traditional marriage but nonetheless is sympathetic to the claims that this is just another form of hatred," Tom Goldstein told the publication. "If you’re trying to persuade someone like that, you can’t persuade them from the perspective of gay rights advocacy."
The NYT points out that legal analysts suggest the brief may have "the potential to sway conservative justices as much for the prominent names attached to it as for its legal arguments."
The document is a direct challenge to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is likely to spend $3 million to defend DOMA.
Earlier this week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to declare DOMA unconstitutional. In a court filling, the administration says that DOMA denies legally married same-sex couples several federal benefits that are only available to legally married straight couples.