Conservative Ted Olson Stands Up for Gays at Proposition 8 Trial

When closing arguments get underway for the Proposition 8 federal trial on Wednesday in San Francisco, a world-famous liberal won't be standing before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker and making the case to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban.

Instead, that attorney will be a longtime conservative and Republican party insider: Ted Olson.

According to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, it's a move by Olson that continues to bewilder his political allies.

With the Proposition 8 trial winding down, conservative columnist Edward Whelan III says Olson's pro-gay marriage stance is a "betrayal" of everything he has ever stood for. Others are also miffed.

Yet the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Los Angeles-based group that was founded by longtime progressive political strategist Chad Griffin and put together the federal lawsuit, couldn't be happier that Olson's on their side.

In a recent press release, AFER touts that Olson, who has worked the case with well-known liberal attorney David Boies, will be delivering the closing arguments on the behalf of the gay and lesbian plaintiffs and, as a result, on the behalf of the entire gay community.

The whole thing may sound a bit wacky to East Coast journalists, but when it comes to gay marriage in California, Olson's participation is really par for the course.

As L.A. Weekly noted in a cover story, "The California GOP: The Queer Enablers of Gay Marriage," Republicans with top positions in state government played a major role in legalizing same-sex marriage for a few, brief months in 2008.

For example, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George, a Republican who was appointed by a Republican governor, wrote the majority opinion to overturn California's gay marriage ban of 2000.

On June 16th at ten o'clock in the morning, Olson, who grew up in California, will once again play out this political theme.

Here's a "brief guide" to the Proposition 8 trial by Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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