October 1, 2013

Gay rights group targets Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage

The American Foundation for Equal Rights hires high-profile lawyers Theodore Olson and David Boies to challenge the law

By Maura Dolan
Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO — A Los Angeles-based gay rights group that launched the federal challenge of Proposition 8 has hired high-powered attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to challenge Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, started by a political strategist with support from Hollywood, announced Monday that the two legal luminaries who led the fight against California’s gay marriage ban would join a federal lawsuit to overturn Virginia’s prohibition.

The addition of Olson and Boies, Supreme Court practitioners on opposite ends of the political spectrum, suggests that Virginia’s ban may become the next case to test gay marriage before the high court.

The court put an end to Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that barred gay marriage in California, in a narrow procedural ruling that left state bans in place elsewhere. Gay rights activists are hoping the next marriage case will prod the court to overturn bans nationwide on constitutional grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, also are challenging Virginia’s ban in a class-action lawsuit filed in a different federal court in the state.

“As a Virginian and a conservative, I believe these laws stand against the very principles of our nation’s founding,” Olson said.

Boies noted that a challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage led to the Supreme Court’s 1967 landmark ruling in Loving vs. Virginia, which ended restrictions on mixed-race marriages nationwide. Gay rights lawyers have cited that ruling in arguing for same-sex marriage.

“Virginia gave us the first marriage equality case – and the one that most clearly established that the right to marry the person you love is a fundamental right of all Americans,” Boies said. “It’s fitting, then, that Virginia be the battleground for another great test of that principle.”

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)