By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - Top Republicans, including veterans of the George W.
Bush administration, former members of Congress and ex-governors, are
calling on the Supreme Court to support same-sex marriage.
than 80 prominent leaders will file a friend of the court brief this
week in advance of the justices hearing oral arguments in two gay
marriage cases. These Republicans are essentially saying gay couples
have a constitutional right to marry and want the court to strike down
California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
signers currently include former governors Jon Huntsman of Utah,
Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and William Weld of Massachusetts;
former White House chief of staff Ken Mehlman and former national
security adviser Stephen Hadley; and retired members of Congress, such
as Mary Bono Mack of California and Deborah Pryce of Ohio.
CEO Meg Whitman is also on record as backing the legal brief, which is a
change of her previous position. When she ran unsuccessfully for
California governor in 2010, Whitman supported Proposition 8. Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is the only active member of the House
currently listed as supporting the brief.
The friend of the court
brief is being organized by the American Foundation for Equal Rights,
the advocacy group that is challenging the California ballot measure,
which has already been struck down by two lower courts.
helped put together the legal team that is challenging Proposition 8,
which was headed by former Bush solicitor general Ted Olson and David
Boies, best known as the lawyer who handled the 2000 Florida recount
challenge for Al Gore.
"The conservative movement toward the
freedom to marry is what we like to call the 'Ted Olson effect,'" said
Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the organization. "We value the
support of our conservative colleagues and welcome their voices to the
growing majority of Americans who stand for marriage equality."
Supreme Court will hear arguments March 26 and March 27 in a pair of
same-sex marriage cases. Many briefs have been filed challenging Prop 8,
in part because the high court's ruling could have far-reaching impact
beyond California on the right of gay men and lesbians to marry.
other case before the Supreme Court deals with the federal Defense of
Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The
case applies to the benefits available to gay couples that are already