When Ted Olson and David Boies decided to take their clients’ same-sex marriage argument to federal court in San Francisco, they got the stink eye from many a civil liberties rights group, who feared the lawsuit could do more damage than good if it wound up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. But now at least three of those organizations want in on the case. Except when the asked nicely to join hands, despite once vocally criticizing the lawsuit, they were told to get the hell out.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights were among those who expressed concern over the Perry v. Schwarzenegger lawsuit when it was first announced in May. Operating with umbrella group Freedom to Marry, these organizations issued a press release and media talking points about how badly timed this lawsuit was. “The climate of receptivity and momentum in the country on these issues matter as well,” they wrote. “There is much we can and should do together to strengthen our hand before we put a federal marriage case before the justices.”
So how come the ACLU, Lambda, and NCLR suddenly want to be a part of history? Well, because they want to be a part of history. Things might be looking up for the Olsen-Boies challenge to Prop 8, and Gay Inc. wants its share.
“Officially,” they just want to lend a helping hand. “We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity,” says Lamba’s national marriage director Jennifer Pizer.
We can only imagine the laughter (and anger) that came from Chad Griffin (pictured, top), one of the plaintiffs and the head of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is funding the lawsuit. His response? “You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening. Therefore, we will vigorously oppose any motion to intervene.”
But Griffin will let these groups act as hangers-on; their role as “consultants” can remain.
And we can’t blame the guy. After working his connections to score sit-downs with Olson and Boies, then masterminding a giant fundraising operation to pay the costs, all while rebuffing criticism from Gay Inc. about how he was going to ruin gay marriage for everyone with his lawsuit, Griffin now hears these groups suddenly want to take some of the credit? Because they feel entitled to it? Uh uh.
As Griffin asserts, adding more lawyers (and agendas) to the case can only trip things up. ACLU, Lambda, and NCLR needn’t sit on the sidelines; their resources and reach can be worthwhile. Their brands can influence their membership and Americans at large. But Griffin & Co. have their strategy down, and have two of the nation’s best attorneys on retainer. This trio of groups have yet to offer up any good reason they should be a part of the federal suit. “Just because” is not an argument.
(Photo: Joshua Caine)