Federal gay marriage suit will go to trial

Wed. August 19, 2009 12:00 AM by OnTopMag.com

San Francisco, CA - The legal team of Theodore Olson and David Boies got everything they wanted from federal district Judge Vaughn Walker in a San Francisco courtroom Wednesday. Walker set a January 2010 trial date for their challenge to Proposition 8, California's voter-approved gay marriage ban, and denied attempts by gay rights groups to join the case, Reuters reported.

The Olson-Boies team are representing a gay couple and a lesbian couple who would like to marry but cannot because of the gay marriage ban. Their lawsuit argues that Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against gay men and lesbians.

The team argued against allowing three gay rights groups – the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – to intervene on behalf of the case, arguing that allowing the groups into the legal fight would "poses a substantial risk of interference and delay."

Walker, however, did allow the City and County of San Francisco limited access to the case.

The groups wanted to get on-board after publicly calling the challenge a "very high risk proposition." A loss in the Supreme Court, where the lawsuit is likely headed, they contend, would cause the gay marriage movement irreparable harm.

Still, there are three additional federal gay marriage suits winding their way to the Supreme Court. In addition to the Olson-Boies challenge, a second gay couple is suing in federal court to have their California marriage license recognized by the federal government. The Massachusetts Attorney General is suing the federal government on behalf of gay couples who cannot access federal benefits because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And a fourth suit, filed in Massachusetts by gay rights group GLAD, also challenges DOMA on the grounds that married gay and lesbian couples are denied federal recognition.

It was also the Olson-Boies team who argued in favor of a trial. Proposition 8 supporters, led by Charles Cooper, oppose a full trial. Cooper also argued that the people of California have the right to ban gay marriage because it is in the state's interest to limit marriage to a heterosexual union.

Judge Walker set a January 11, 2010 date to begin the trial.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine