Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

GOPers sign brief in favor
of same-sex marriage


Ken Mehlman
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The talk of many political pundits this week is an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court filed by a group of prominent Republicans that argues that California's Proposition 8, banning marriage for same-sex couples, violates the federal constitutional rights of gay people.

The brief has not yet been filed with the Supreme Court but was reported on February 25 by the New York Times, which was given an advance copy of the document. Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg said she could not release the brief or the list of signers to other reporters, and attempts to obtain the brief elsewhere have been, so far, unsuccessful.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the federal lawsuit challenging Prop 8 on behalf of two same-sex couples, on Tuesday released a list of Republicans who have signed the brief so far.

According to the Times, the brief argues that California's ban, as well as "all similar bans," violates the U.S. Constitution. As of Tuesday, the AFER news release included the names of 82 people who have signed onto the friend-of-the-court brief, including, as the Times noted, "a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers."

One of the prominent gay Republicans who signed the brief is Ken Mehlman, who came out as gay several years ago and was a leader in New York state's successful effort to legalize same-sex marriage. Mehlman is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

According to the AFER release, signers include former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 in 2008, two years prior to her unsuccessful bid for office. Former Republican governors Christine Whitman of New Jersey, William Weld, Paul Cellucci, and Jane Swift of Massachusetts, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Jon Huntsman of Utah have also signed the brief. Huntsman, as a presidential candidate last year, opposed same-sex marriage but supported civil unions. He wrote an opinion piece last week in the American Conservative in which he said he now supports marriage equality.

Other signers include Representatives Richard Hanna of New York and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and former Representatives Deborah Pryce of Ohio, Mary Bono Mack and Michael Huffington of California, and Connie Morella of Maryland.

Signers also include numerous officials from the administration of President Ronald Reagan such as his Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein and budget director David Stockman.

AFER's release includes other high-profile gay "political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians." Such as former Representative James Kolbe of Arizona and Mary Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

AFER's list also identifies signers Republican media advisor Alex Castellanos and numerous officials from the 2012 Republican presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory Angelo said the list is important because "Republicans who support the freedom to marry for committed gay and lesbian couples can no longer be dismissed as a small fringe of the party."

"The individuals who signed on to this Proposition 8 brief are some of the party's most respected and influential individuals," said Angelo. "They understand that there is a conservative case to be made for marriage equality, and we hope other Republican leaders follow their bold lead and support marriage for all Americans."

Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson said the list demonstrates that support for marriage equality is a "mainstream position that reflects American values of freedom, family, and fairness, as well as conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility."

The Times reported that Mehlman spent "months" quietly gathering signatures from Republican peers.

According to the Times, the brief cites some very high-profile Supreme Court decisions in its reasoning, including the controversial campaign finance decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, and a controversial gun ownership case, D.C. v. Heller .

Producers of the brief have until Friday to submit it to the court. At that time, it will become a public document available through the court's website.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Prop 8 case on March 26. It will hear arguments in a Defense of Marriage Act case March 27. Briefs in support of striking down DOMA are due March 13.

The AFER news release is available at


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