Will Chad Griffin Let the SF City Attorney Join His Prop 8 Suit?


Just like the gay rights groups with their tails between their legs, the San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera wants to join the Olson-Boies federal lawsuit against Prop 8. Will they be allowed?

Just like Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights — who initially attacked the federal lawsuit, but then came around to support it — Herrera has his own reasons for wanting to join forces: his office can bring “a unique local government perspective.”

Except when the trio of civil liberties groups tried that same strategy to get on board, they were rebuffed. So we imagine Chad Griffin, the outspoken one among the plaintiffs, is going to turn down the request as well.


Officially, it’s Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker who has the say whether other parties can join the suit. Thus far, the gay rights groups have been allowed to file motions supporting the plaintiffs, but it’s Olson, Boies, and Griffin calling the shots.

Why does San Francisco want to get involved? Perhaps because it enjoys its (mayor-sanctioned) status as a hot bed for civil liberties. Perhaps because it wants to continue the tradition of support GLBT rights, which includes offering care to individuals and families. Or perhaps because San Francisco stands, like many other California cities, earn a bundle from the gay wedding industry if Prop 8 falls.

But is the olive branch from Herrera (pictured, top) — which arrived yesterday, the day before today’s deadline — of a different sort? Herrera previously sued to invalidate Prop 8, and while you know how that went, it at least shows the man is committed to an immediate legal challenge of the law, which LL, ACLU, and, NCLR proved they weren’t.

Or maybe Griffin will fire off another entertaining (but serious) letter to Herrera’s office, telling him to step the F off.

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  • A gay lawyer

    Another post demonstrating a complete ignorance of the law!
    Let’s go through the idiocy in this post:
    (a) THinking a suit shouldn’t be brought and then, once it is brought, hoping to get the best outcome possible and avoid massive destruction to inequality
    (b) The constant implications that gay rights legal groups did something wrong by “losing” the Prop 8 suit – one that was NOT an easy (or even strong) case by any means – is morally reprehensible. It shows the blogger to be a whiny ingrate. Gay rights legal groups are the ones who GOT MARRIAGE IN THE FIRST PLACE in California, in Massachusetts, in Iowa….
    (c) Chad Griffin’s resistance if anything makes the granting of intervenor status MORE likely. A plaintiff who is being an impetuous brat, ignoring the consequences of his litigation on other parties and denying the involvement of interested parties is the EXACT REASON intervenor status was created. When you sue in federal court, that does not give you “me first” status to control all litigation relating to the statute at issue and deny other people the right to address the issues.
    (d) Honestly, stop talking about civil procedure legal issues you know nothing about. The disinformation you spread amongst the gay community is damaging.

  • Chris

    It’s not up to Chad Griffin whether any other groups intervene – it’s up to the judge.

  • Flex

    Whatever happens I feel good about what judge Vaughn Walker will decide. The questions. and facts, that the defendants must answer, and present, seem to strike at the heart of their hateful campaign to vote our right to get married away. Isn’t that what we must physically prove in this trial, that proposition 8 was intended to show animosity towards us?

  • An Observer

    The gay legal groups hardly have their tails between their legs. There’s a difference between them saying they “support” a case they were once opposed to and saying you they want to be in on the case so the organization which recklessly and irresponsibly brought it (and wrote a shitty complaint to boot) doesn’t fuck things up for every gay person in the country.

    That’s the bottom line: however this case goes down, it’s going to effect everygay in the damn country. Who the hell is behind this lawsuit? Who is paying Olson/Boies/Griffin? Who created the American Foundation for Filing Bad Lawsuits? I haven’t seen the answers to any of these questions.

    At least LL, ACLU and NCLR publish their donor and board lists, so we know who is backing their work. Work that’s been successful in winning a fuckton of gay rights lawsuits. Why should any of us trust this new team over the old one?

  • Michael @

    San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is one of the good guys and one of the players who helped jump-start marriage equality from a slowly moving regional issue to a national one virtually overnight.

    Yes, the legal advocates who succeeded in making MA the first state to legalize marriage equality deserve a great deal of praise but the Antigay Industry didn’t see that event or Iowa or other states] as worthy of their attention and millions of dollars fighting as the possibility in CA. [Yes, a referendum is not the same as a court decision but they could have tried harder to stampeded MA’s legislature into challenging the state Supreme’s ruling.]

  • M Shane

    While, having lived in San Francisco, I would tend to see the general opinion of many of the residents as not being really interested, since the ‘marriage’ routine is inconsitent with gay rights as we have come in a progressive sense to understand them as promoting emotional/sexual expansiveness the city itself has a sufficient number of wealthy people there who would want to benefit from the economic incentives. Also the city has come to represent something special albeit the notion of Gay Urban Community, not, in reaility, especially associated with suburban monogamy.
    The Tourtist Industry People, not the gay residents as such, would benefit from even a token gesture of support . San Francisco, of all cities, small as it is(relative to NYC) is the Gay city which is most romanticized as such.

  • mikeandrewsdantescove

    I heard Dennis Herrera speak when Gay Marriage was allowed the second time. He’s very committed to this issue. It’s also amazing considering Dennis is straight.

    Dennis Herrera

  • Shum Preston

    Hold on one second here…Dennis Herrera was the officiant at my (gay) wedding (and Chad Griffin is a friend of mine). I have no idea what Chad thinks about Dennis’ motion, but I do know that your condescending and b*tchy attitude towards Dennis is completely off-base.

    Seriously, you’re questioning Dennis’ motives when he has been working away diligently on this and every other lesbigay rights issues he can get ahold of for half a decade? He, who was a key force behind the 2008 in re marriage cases, which, to quote Wikipedia (yeah, I know…): “…established that any law discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is constitutionally suspect, making California the first state in the United States to set such a strict standard.” While Prop 8 took one piece away from that, the case is huge, second in importance only to Lawrence v Texas, and Dennis is verifiably in the pantheon of gay lesbian rights heroes. And what have YOU been up to lately?

    Excuse me, Missy, but you’re the one who needs step the F off!

  • Mr. Cox

    As a native San Franciscan, I think Olson, Boies and Griffin should tell Herrera to BACK OFF. He is nothing but a suit looking for a political career boost. He wants to run for Mayor next time around and like Jerry Brown he wants to get ahead on the Democrat Machine. We need to STOP PUTTING OUR FAITH AND RIGHTS IN THE HANDS OF POLITICIANS!

    We will never learn! The Democrats do not care about us unless it is to further their agenda. The same goes for the big money gay groups that want self-aggrandizement. This is a LEGAL case. I find it insulting that we will allow any political minded group to have a voice in this trial. The only exception is Lambda Legal because they specialize in court litigation.

  • Michael @

    @Mr. Cox:

    Get your head out of the San Francisco fog. Herrera is the City ATTORNEY for Xrist’s sake. His involvement would BE “LEGAL”…regardless of what political benefits might accrue to him in the process. The attorneys for Lambda Legal take money for their work…does that disqualify them?

    Herrera was one of the leaders of the lawsuit that resulted in the California Supreme Court declaring marriage equality constitutional…a decision which was widely quoted by the Iowa Supremes in their similar ruling.

    He did NOT, as some gay cockroaches claim, “fuck up” the Prop 8 suit which resulted NOT in a ruling on the constitutionality of marriage equality but on the constituionality of the CA’s obscene referendum process which trumped it.

    Again, Herrera is one of the good guys. Stop throwing shit just because you can.

  • schlukitz

    I say keep them the hell out of it. You let one in and next thing you know, they will all be demanding to have a say. And you know the old saying?

    Too many chefs spoils the stew!

    Herrera may be a good guy, but he is still a politician and after what I have seen going on in the political arena over the past couple of years, his hands are already soiled just by association. Thank you for offering, but no thank you.

    Olson and Boies objectives in taking the case many not be entirely altruistic either, but at least they do not have a constituency to suck-up to. Olson and Boies can take the position of the “Voter be damned”, and that is exactly the sort of approach the LGBT community needs.

    It’s not up to City Attorneys, Mayors, Governors, Presidents and other assorted riff-raff to decide the civil-rights of millions of americans who should be able to live their lives with full dignity and equality.

    We’ve already seem what the voters have in mind for us. Do we need more of the same?

  • Mr. Cox

    @Michael @ Hererra did great things and deserves a lot of respect… blah blah blah I GET IT!

    The truth is though, Hererra is a POLITICIAN RUNNING FOR OFFICE! What part of that do you not understand? He is running for Mayor in the next election. Therefore, he has personal interests at stake and could very likely try to grandstand the court into drama to look good to the voters.

    That is not how court cases are won. I agree with the above comment that ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD STAY OUT! In fact, the entire state of California should stay out. That’s right I said it. If we challenge Prop 8 and DOMA in the same court case it will only complicate matters even further. I have a background in legal studies and I can tell you the court does not look positively on cases that try to tackle multiple issues.

    Massachusetts is right to be involved because they have legalized marriage equality. They have a legitimate claim to make in this case that the U.S. government is discriminating through DOMA. California only does for the 20K couples already married.

  • Mark Snyder

    ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are NOT joining the lawsuit. They are representing 3 smaller organizations of LGBT people who want to make sure that a broad range of our community is represented. Get your facts right.

  • Michael @

    @Mr. Cox:

    You’re clearly less motivated by the merits than the fact that you have a hardon about people you consider “politicians” first and public servants second.

    And you get none of the merits and few of the facts right.

    Hererra may or may not run for Mayor. He hasn’t announced so you’re wrong to say he IS. Second, you know NOTHING about him if you say that he “could very likely try to grandstand the court into drama to look good to the voters.” It’s not his style at all.

    By numbers alone….and you can’t get those right from the moment you start flapping your jaws….CA has roughly 18,000 not 20,000 married gay couples. CA has more legal “standing” than MA because, according to the “Boston Globe,” as of May of this year MA had 6,000 FEWER gay married couples than CA.

    Thankfully, the decision of whether or not to include him will be left to calmer, professional legal heads and not people like you with merely a “background in legal studies” and their head waaay up their ass.

  • schlukitz

    @Michael @

    Michael, I always look forward to your thoughtful viewpoints and commentaries and find that I often agree with them. You are obviously a man who takes issue heart and I really respect that.

    Mr. Cox has been guilty of no wrong-doing that I can see, in expressing his viewpoints which may be just as as valid as any you have expressed.

    Nor, has he addressed you disrespectfully, as far as I know, or suggested that you have your head in an area of your anatomy that is not designated for that particular usage.

    As far as having a hardon for people he considers “politicians” first and public servants second, I can definitely relate to that. I mean can you name very many politicians who are not homophobic, not anti-homosexual, not always preaching family values while cheating on their wives, thumping their bibles at us and telling us that we are abominations unto the Lord and are going straight to hell while they are voting our rights away?

    I think that Mr. Cox has every right to be suspicious of the motives of any politician, no matter what his speil is, as well he should be as an American taxpayer and voter.

    IMHO, that makes him more of a Patriot than the Obamabots on this site that suck up to the Republicans, the Church and the Religious right in the blind, stupid hope that they will graciously grant them the rights that they have withheld from us for the past two-thousand years.

    For my tax dollars, I would like to see politicians stay as far away from my rights as possible because, frankly, their record on those issue sucks.

    Big time!

  • Mr. Cox

    @schlukitz: Thank you. Look, I am a realist here. If we put Prop 8 in the same court case going against DOMA WE WILL LOSE! I have spoken to every legal scholar I know. The courts will treat the case as unprofessional and poorly prepared.

    Olson and Boies are two of the greatest legal minds of our time. They argued Bush v. Gore as opponents in the most important Supreme Court case in world history. The fact that they can come together and argue in favor of civil rights is unprecedented and shocking. It is more than we could ask for.

    I like Dennis Hererra. I met the guy and signed his petition for reelection. I may even support him for Mayor depending who he runs against. That said, he is an elected official. It is unprofessional for someone in his stature to get involved in this case. The more people who get involved the more it will hurt us.

    Rather than take the low road and attack [email protected] I will say that A) my head is straight on my neck. B) I understand the passion over people like Dennis Hererra. Unfortunately, I see this from a PURELY LEGAL standpoint (the only standpoint we should see this from) and I strongly believe that the plaintiffs are correct to deny access to all the “friends of the court” as they will make this a political fight and not a legal one.

  • schlukitz

    @Mr. Cox:

    Mr. Cox, I could not agree with you more.

    There is no conflict in my mind as to why you cannot like Dennis Hererra, sign his petition for reelection and even support him for Mayor and still be in favor of denying access to all the “friends of the court”

    They are two separate issues and should remain as such.

    As to your decision not to take the low road and attack [email protected] in return, I say hats off to you.

    You’ve just proven yourself to be a gentleman as well as a legal scholar. ;o)

  • Mr. Cox

    @schlukitz: The problem with gays is that we have a tendency to open the floodgates and welcome everybody in as if we’re having another Pride Parade down Market Street. Just remember, history is on our side. Let’s let the professionals do their work while we focus on grassroots activism and changing Prop 8 at the ballot box. After all, I am willing to bet this court case will be going on for a very long time. None of us are qualified to testify as scholars before SCOTUS. Let’s do what we’re good at and change hearts as we are changing laws.

  • Michael @


    Thank you for your kind comments, but Mr. Cox…despite reiterations that he sees “this from a PURELY LEGAL standpoint”…doesn’t SEE it at all…for he doesn’t even understand the suit he’s pontificating about.

    He writes, “If we put Prop 8 in the same court case going against DOMA…”

    The Boies-Olson lawsuit is NOT “against DOMA”…it has nothing to do with DOMA. It IS a challenge to the results of Prop 8…the banning of marriage equality in CA.

    He and “every legal scholar” he knows needs to lay off the sauce or whatever it is that so clouds their thinking they don’t even know the subject of the suit he’s so certain about.

    The NONSENSE about Herrera being JUST a politician when he was the chief attorney representing the City of San Francisco and several gay couples in suits both pre and post Prop 8 is only rancid icing on Mr. Cox’s nutty fruitcake.

  • Mr. Cox

    @Michael @ Okay Michael, we get it… you have a hardon for Dennis Herrera. I was going to be respectful and decent but clearly your childish name calling has made me reconsider.

    You’re blindness to reality is astonishing. The Boies-Olson is seeking to challenge DOMA and Prop 8.

    Clearly though you seem very intent on maintaining your 1970s Castro Street CAMP persona that obsesses over local politicians and my guess is you probably spend every week at Harveys just to feel like you’re back in the “good ol’ days” when Judy Garland was still alive and all the men had leather chaps and watched the Golden Girls. The 1970s are over! The Gay Liberation Front days are OVER! Harvey Milk is gone and he’s never coming back.

    You seem like another grumpy old whiner who has nothing better to do but criticize those who disagree with him. Just like Perez Hilton, I bet you get in peoples’ faces, call them “faggots” and then accuse the other party of hate-crime when they push you away.

    Get the cum out of your ass, put down your crack-pipe, and quit attacking total strangers on a message board simply because they are respectfully disagreeing with you.

  • Michael @

    @Mr. Cox:

    WHAT? Judy’s dead??!!!

    Well, at least SHE has an excuse for being wrong about the case.

    Despite your half-cocked ejaculations, my chief interest is FACTS which you continue to distort in your tireless, pathological need to make yourself look like a fool.

    For those who might think this is but a difference of OPINION, please see the documents at the links below and judge for yourselves.

    The first is the press release by the group formed for the Boies-Olson lawsuit announcing it: Prop. 8 Challenged in Federal Court—Ted Olson & David Boies to Argue Case.

    The second is the actual filing to the court by Boies-Olson, et al.

    Note, NEITHER have ANY reference to DOMA. Not one.

    Would success in this case contribute to the battle against DOMA? Of course, but that is not what Mr. Cox keeps insisting.

Comments are closed.